Stay Active During the Winter Months With These Tips

  • During the past week, it has snowed twice in the Washington, DC area.  The first snow was enough to close school but not keep people home.  The second snow was record breaking and will have us shut down for days.  The snow on my picnic table measured two feet deep Saturday afternoon before it stopped snowing.  (see A Snowy Diversion)


    But before this huge storm, I had to shovel part of my driveway so that music students could come to their lessons.  Parents needed a place to park.  At that time the snow was only about five inches deep and I only needed to clear enough space for one car in the driveway.  Working quickly, it only took about 30 minutes to shovel but it took over an hour to get my legs back.

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    As an attempt to keep track of food and exercise, and to derive motivation from doing so, I recently started using a free iPhone application called LoseIt!  It is easy to use while providing necessary motivation while on this journey.  On the exercise list, I was surprised to find that it even included estimates for playing instruments.  How cool is that?


    So last Wednesday when I shoveled snow for 30 minutes, I input this information into my iPhone and the app registered 317 calories burned for the activity.  As comparison, 30 minutes of slow walking (2 miles/hour) burns 95 calories.


    Out of curiosity (and in order to share here) I wanted to know if there was a place online to find the same information.  That’s how I found the Calories Burned Estimator at  The results differ somewhat but both resources take into consideration my current weight which is certainly a nice feature.  According to Healthstatus, 30 minutes of shoveling snow burns 365 calories and slow walking burns 166 calories.


    With the two feet of snow which were dumped on us this past weekend, I haven’t attempted to do the shoveling myself.  It would simply be too hard on this RA- and MS-affected body.   It is beautiful out there, however, and I’ve seen the neighborhood children go down the street for some sledding.


    The snow and sledding get me in the mood for some Winter Olympics.  I personally enjoy figure skating, but this year the snow has put me in a downhill skiing mood.


    For me, that brief amount of snow shoveling seemed like a personal winter olympic sport.  However weight loss is a sport which needs to be practiced year-round.  From our “losing weight with exercise” page, the key to weight control is keeping energy intake (food) and energy output (physical activity) in balance. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat.  Sounds simple, right?


    “Exercise is the best way to do this. When you exercise regularly, you build stronger muscles, even if you do not work out with weights. Muscles use more calories than fat throughout the day, even while you are resting. This helps boost your metabolism. (see Stayin’ Alive - Resting Metabolic Rate)

    How much exercise you need to make a difference in your weight depends on how much you eat and what activity you are doing. A medium-sized adult would have to walk more than 30 miles to burn up 3,500 calories, the equivalent of one pound of fat. Although that may seem like a lot, you don't have to walk the 30 miles all at once. Walking a mile a day for 30 days will achieve the same result, as long as you don't eat more than usual.”


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    I’m trying to keep this in mind as I’m keeping track of food and exercise.  I’ve been holding steady at about 265 lbs for the past two weeks.  Perhaps we will see more downhill activity in the near future.


    By the way, what is your favorite Winter Olympic sport?


    Follow TEAM USA at the Winter Olympics which opens this Friday in Vancouver, BC.


    February 7, 2010
    Weight: 265.2
    Blood pressure: 133/84
    Pulse: 64


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: February 10, 2010