Written by Simone Maglassis, CPT, ACSM, ACE
We're all going to have to shovel snow at some point this winter.
And then there's the difficulty of staying active when it's cold and dreary and all you want to do is hibernate in our Canadian winters.
But we have to change that.
Especially because of the impact COVID-19 has had.
It's our duty to ourselves and our bodies to stay active for our mind, body and souls.
Let's start with what you can do when shoveling snow: turn it into a proper exercise routine! Shoveling snow is already an exercise in of itself, so why not do it the right way and get your workout in for the day at the same time?
Plus, did you know that heart attacks increase in the winter?
"As temperatures start to fall, your risk of a heart attack begins to climb" (Harvard Health, 2016).
The theory is that this has to do with the increasing of people shoveling snow after going from inactivity to suddenly lifting over 20 pounds repeatedly of wet heavy snow. Combine that with those who already have pre-existing cardiovascular problems and it's a recipe for disaster.
Additionally, in the winter you're more at risk of overheating, influenza, missed prescriptions and causes your vessels to constrict and therefore increases your blood pressure.
Don't just go straight out to shovel the snow. Warm up first!
This should take 5 minutes more or less. It's important to get the muscles and joints ready for the movement we're about to put them through so they're better prepared for the stress and load.
Do this warm up preferably inside when you're muscles are already warm and therefore more flexible.
Complete 10-20 reps for 2-3 sets
How to Best Shovel Snow
As I mentioned before, there is a link between shoveling snow and heart attacks for men specifically.
So let's shovel snow the right way (or get someone else to do it for you entirely) to lower your risks.
Check out this great article about How to Shovel Snow--7 Snow Shoveling Lessons No One Has Taught You
I was happy to learn some new techniques to make the process easier!
Cool Down & Stretch
Video for cool down & stretch starts at :
Avoid dropping the shovel and going straight to lie down on the couch.
It's difficult on the body to go from a period of high activity to a sudden standstill. The body always likes a warm up, workout and cool down & stretch.
The cool down isn't complicated.
It can consist of you walking slowly back up the driveway, taking your time putting your shovel away and taking off your gear and then move onto stretching.
If you can't resist collapsing on the bed or couch then at least do these awesome stretches you can do on your bed.
Complete each for 30 seconds
How to Stay Active in the Winter
Exercise when the sun's out
In the winter it's often dark in the morning and dark in the evening. If you exercise when the sun is out, your seizing the moment when your mood is automatically lifted.
Don't make it complicated
Sometimes the simpler the better.
Start off with some basic exercises. Try the full body workout plan in the FREE stuff section here.
Start an indoor or outdoor activity
And I don't mean driving to the gym. Let's face it, even before COVID-19, gyms make the majority of their money on people who sign up better never or hardly ever use the facility.
After some of my clients finish their sessions with me, they go back to playing a sport they loved or dive more into an activity they already enjoyed doing.
Here's some to consider:
And the list goes on. Check out your nearest recreation center or do a quick google search on what's in your area.
Exercising doesn't have to be boring! Make it fun!
Make up for lost movement
If you know you don't have time to dedicate to exercise right now (which is an excuse by the way...). Then find a way to add extra movement into your day to "make up" for it.
Here's some ideas:
You know yourself and your schedule best. See where you can fit in the most activity into your day in a way that works for you.
Exercise & eat healthy with a buddy
Things tend to be easier when you have someone to do it with.
By exercising with a family member or friend, you'll hold yourself more accountable.
The difficulty with this is that you need to find someone who's just a little bit or more above your level. If you find a partner who is just as inactive and unhealthy as you, it will be the blind leading the blind.
Join a Challenge
There's nothing like joining a challenge to get you kickstarted.
It's a way to hold yourself accountable with a group of people who are also working on the same goals.
Consider joining my too simple New Year's Challenge today!
Avoiding winter heart attacks - Harvard Health, September 2016
Simone is a certified in-home personal trainer, precision nutrition coach and ACE functional training specialist. Her mission is to help people on their fitness & health journey.
When she's not figure skating, reading or writing, Simone loves to relax and watch Netflix with her little family.
All information provided by Simone (Guishard) Maglassis and simonesfitfunlife.com is of a general nature and is furnished only for educational/entertainment purposes only. No information is to be taken as legal, medical or other health advice pertaining to any individual specific health or medical condition. You agree that use of this information is at your own risk and hold Simone Maglassis and/or simonesfitfunlife.com harmless from any and all losses, liabilities, injuries or damages resulting from any and all claims.