Shoveling snow is a great way to get some exercise during the winter months. But just how effective is it for burning calories? The number of calories you burn shoveling snow for an hour depends on several factors like your body weight, intensity level, and the amount of snow. Generally, a 155 lb person can expect to burn around 400-600 calories after shoveling snow for one hour. With a heavier workload or more intense pace, you may be able to burn over 700 calories.
Calories Burned Per Hour
According to experts, here are estimates for calories burned per hour of snow shoveling based on your body weight:
|Calories Burned Per Hour
As you can see, heavier individuals burn more calories performing the same activity. But these numbers are just estimates. The actual calories burned can vary significantly based on other factors.
Factors That Influence Calories Burned
Here are some of the top factors that affect how many calories you’ll burn per hour of snow shoveling:
Your intensity level
Shoveling at a moderate pace will burn fewer calories than high-intensity shoveling. If you push yourself and shovel fast with big loads, you can really crank up the calorie burn. One study found that participants burned 40% more calories when they shoveled at a vigorous pace.
The amount of snow
Obviously shoveling 6 inches of fluffy powder won’t burn as many calories as shoveling 12 inches of dense, heavy snow. The more snow you have to clear, the more calories your body uses. Make sure to factor this in when estimating your calorie expenditure.
Your shoveling technique
Using proper shoveling form can help you burn more calories in an hour. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and lift with your legs. Taking smaller loads that allow you to maintain good form will help increase your calorie burn compared to sloppy shoveling.
Shoveling in cold vs. hot weather causes your body to use more energy to regulate its core temperature. Colder temperatures mean your body has to work harder to stay warm, burning extra calories in the process.
Your fitness level
People who are more physically fit tend to burn more calories for the same activity. If you’re in good shoveling shape from regular exercise, your calorie burn may be towards the higher end of the estimates.
Your age and sex
In general, men and younger adults burn more calories than women and older adults when shoveling the same amount of snow. This is due to differences in metabolism and muscle mass.
How to Burn More Calories Shoveling Snow
Here are some tips to help you maximize your calorie burn when tackling the white stuff:
– Shovel first thing in the morning after fresh snow has fallen. The snow will be lighter and easier to lift.
– Choose a shovel with a curved blade that can hold more snow. This allows you to take bigger loads.
– Take small breaks every 20-30 minutes to catch your breath. Working at a vigorous pace requires more energy.
– Push the snow rather than lifting it when possible. Pushing burns about 50% more calories.
– Wear minimal layers so you don’t overheat. Shoveling in the cold forces your body to work harder.
– Use your legs and engage your core when shoveling. Improper form is less efficient.
– Drink water to stay hydrated. Dehydration causes fatigue, reducing your calorie burn.
– Listen to upbeat music. Studies show people work harder when energized by music.
Benefits of Shoveling Snow
Beyond the calorie burn, regularly shoveling snow has many benefits for your health:
Shoveling snow gets your heart rate elevated, improving cardiovascular health. According to Harvard Health, just 30 minutes of snow shoveling equates to half an hour of cross country skiing in terms of cardiorespiratory fitness.
The lifting and throwing motions work most of the major muscle groups in your shoulders, back, chest, arms and legs. Shoveling snow provides a great strength training workout.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Shoveling snow requires coordination, flexibility and stamina. This can help reduce your risk of falls and overuse injuries compared to those who avoid physical activity.
The combination of cardio exercise and being outdoors has been shown to effectively lower stress hormone levels and boost mood.
When shoveling snow, your body produces more Vitamin D from sunlight exposure. Vitamin D supports immune function and bone health.
Safety Tips for Shoveling Snow
Despite the benefits, shoveling snow does involve some safety considerations:
– Stretch your muscles for 5-10 minutes beforehand to warm up
– Stay hydrated and take frequent breaks
– Dress in layers to avoid getting sweaty or chilled
– Use proper shoveling technique to avoid back injuries
– Avoid caffeine or nicotine before shoveling, as these raise heart rate
– Listen to your body and stop immediately if you feel pain or tightness
– Shovel only fresh, powdery snow – avoid heavy, dense snow when possible
– Lift smaller loads and walk to dump snow rather than throwing
– Don’t eat a heavy meal before or shovel soon after eating
– Consider seeking medical clearance if you have a history of heart disease
Who Should Avoid Shoveling Snow?
While shoveling snow can be great exercise, some people are better off leaving it to others. Here are some who should avoid shoveling snow:
– Individuals with heart conditions like angina or arrhythmia
– People with high blood pressure or cholesterol
– Those with back problems like ruptured discs or sciatica
– Anyone who suffers from respiratory issues like asthma
– Pregnant women
– People with arthritis or recent surgery/injuries
– Children under 18 years of age
– Seniors over the age of 55, especially those untrained
The physical exertion and cold temperature stresses the body, so those at high risk of injury or medical issues should refrain from shoveling.
Alternatives to Shoveling for Seniors & High-Risk Groups
For those who can’t safely shovel snow, here are some alternatives to consider:
– Hire a neighborhood kid or snow removal service
– Ask a family member or able-bodied friend to help
– Use a snow pusher or shoveling aid tool
– Invest in a snow blower machine
– Live in a community with a snow removal committee
– Move to a warmer climate during winter months
The key is finding a way to get the snow cleared that doesn’t jeopardize your health and safety. Don’t risk injury just to get a workout.
The Bottom Line
Shoveling snow can burn up to 700 calories per hour, with heavier individuals burning more calories. Factors like intensity, amount of snow, weather, fitness level, age, and gender all impact the calories burned. Use proper form and shovel fresh powder to maximize the burn. But take breaks and be careful not to overexert yourself. Shoveling snow provides an excellent cardiovascular and strength training workout when done safely. Just be sure to avoid shoveling if you have any medical conditions that put you at high risk.