Anyone who’s faced blizzard conditions or woken up to a massive snowfall knows how tough it can be to shovel snow. It’s far from a popular outdoors winter activity. But there are some things you can do to make shoveling snow easier and safer. Here are our top 10 tips for shoveling snow, because ’tis the season!
10. Protect Your Lips
Your lips may be the last thing you think of when you get ready to shovel snow, but cold and wind wreak havoc on them. You only have to experience a split lip once to want to avoid it, so smear on some lip balm before you leave the house. Don’t have lip balm handy? Vaseline does the trick, too – anything that forms a protective layer between your lips and the elements.
Treat your skin kindly and it’ll reward you by not itching, flaking, and burning during dry winter months. While your body may be layered and protected from the cold and wind, your face will likely be exposed. Applying a layer of moisturizer to your face before you shovel snow can help protect your skin from harsh winter conditions.
8. Ask Your Doctor
Shoveling snow is a very strenuous physical activity. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease or you’re out of shape, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before shoveling. He or she can tell you if it’s likely to be an activity that puts you at risk, since it raises heart rate and blood pressure.
7. Get a Head Start
The earlier you start shoveling, the better – even if it means having to make several trips to shovel throughout the duration of the storm. Snow is lighter and easier to manage when it’s freshly fallen. Otherwise it packs down and becomes more of a burden to clear.
6. Warm Up
Just like with exercise, your body needs to warm up before going full speed ahead into shoveling. Go slowly at first and ease your way into it. The snow’s already there – no need to stress your body unduly by rushing.
5. Stay Hydrated
You’ll sweat clearing snow just like with any cardiovascular exercise. And the wind and cold can sap moisture from your skin, too. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to replenish what you lose due to sweating, and to keep your skin healthy.
4. Avoid Big Meals
Avoid eating a big meal before you start shoveling. Experts warn that combining digestion with heavy exercise can place strain on your heart.
3. Moderate Your Loads
Use moderation and care when loading up your shovel. The more snow you pile on, the heavier it becomes, which can cause injury like pulled muscles, sprains, and tears.
2. Stay Warm
Bundle up with plenty of layers before you head outside. You’re likely to lose a lot of body heat if you don’t. And the cold affects your circulation, too, slowing it down. The warmer you stay the better your circulation and the less likely you’ll be to damage your immune system by leaving key body parts, such as wrists and the back of your neck, exposed to the cold.
1. Pay Attention
Shoveling snow is a rhythmic activity, which makes it almost hypnotic. It’s easy for your mind to wander, and for you to lose track of how your body feels. Pay attention to your body while you’re shoveling and stop if you feel you may be injuring or straining yourself. It’s only snow. It’s not worth hurting yourself!