Category Archives: Exercise

Can I Shovel Snow While Pregnant?

A woman asked me the other day what my opinion was about whether she could shovel snow while pregnant.  Now, I’m not a doctor and I’m not a woman but my wife has been pregnant a couple times and I live in Minnesota, so I guess that makes me an expert.

The first thing to be careful about is making sure you don’t overwork.  If you are in good shape and are used to exercising during your pregnancy, shoveling snow shouldn’t be too strenuous for you as long as you take plenty of breaks.  And take even more breaks if the snow is wet and heavy.  After a couple pregnancies, I learned that my wife knew her body and she if she was pushing it too far.  Ultimately you will need to decide for yourself whether shoveling snow is too strenuous for you.

Another issue to be aware of is that if you do decide to shovel the snow while pregnant, you will probably be walking on ice and slippery snow.  Your risk of falling increases greatly while shoveling snow.  This would be my main concern.  Falling on the concrete or ice while you are pregnant wouldn’t be good.  This is probably the greatest risk you will face.

You should also take into account how far along you are.  A woman who is 10 weeks pregnant is going to perform more strenuous activities than a woman who is 36 weeks pregnant.  Also keep in mind that some snow shovels are more ergonomic than others, so try to choose a snow shovel that doesn’t put more strain and stress on your body than necessary.

Ultimately you need to listen to your body and try not to push yourself too hard.  If your pregnancy has had any complications or you want some extra piece of mind, contact your doctor.

How many calories are burned shoveling snow?

Anybody who has ever shoveled snow knows that it can be hard work.  Depending on how heavy the snow is, how long it takes you to shovel, how full you fill your shovel during each scoop and how quickly you shovel, it can be considered anywhere between a moderate or vigorous form of exercise.  Because of this the number of calories burned shoveling snow varies from person to person.

Calories Burned Shoveling Snow

The number of calories burned shoveling snow depends on your age, weight, how long you shovel and the intensity of your shoveling.  I checked a few online calorie calculators and found that I burn about 400 calories per hour shoveling snow.  I also checked this against my heart rate monitor the last time I shoveled snow.  According to the monitor, I burned 210 calories in 35 minutes, which works out 360 calories per hour.   See the links to the calorie calculators at the end of this post to calculate it for your own age, weight and time.

Health Warning

According to this Harvard Medical School article, shoveling snow can be a trigger for heart attacks.  It has also been known to cause sore backs, shoulders, arms and legs.  This is the “weekend warrior” symptom, where people who otherwise rarely exercise suddenly decide to lift and move hundreds of pounds of snow.  The truth is that shoveling should be treated as any other form of exercise.  You should only do it if you are in good health and you should make sure you warm up before you start.  I would also recommend shoveling smaller loads more often rather than less big loads of snow.

If you do exercise regularly, then the health risks are not as great.  In fact, shoveling snow can be used as another exercise to fit into your exercise routine.  This can help you from getting bored with doing the same thing every day and can help you exercise different muscle groups.

Links to Calorie Calculators

Fitday

HealthStatus

SparkPeople