Weekly health briefs rail.

Health Watch: Have a snow-fueled workout

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Tip of the Week

It's January. Your gym is packed. Don't wait in line for a machine; get a workout in your driveway and pick up a shovel.

It's more economical than a snow blower, and shoveling is an intense cardio workout that exercises muscles in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms. If you want to overachieve, you can extend the workout by shoveling the sidewalks or helping out your neighbors.

Burn up calories. The exact amount depends on pace and intensity, but expect to burn around 250 calories for every 30 minutes of shoveling. If you experience lower temperatures, heavy snowfall, or the need to chop ice, you'll burn even more calories as your body fights to stay warm and increases exertion. (Be safe, of course, and don't shovel snow if you have a medical condition or you don't normally exercise.)

Work different muscle groups. Shoveling snow is a high-intensity workout - especially if you shovel fast - and it works all of your major muscle groups. You will feel it the next day in your legs, core, back, shoulders and arms. Use a full range of motion and fire your core muscles as you bend and lift.

Use proper technique. As with all workouts, proper technique will help improve your workout and avoid strains and soreness. First off, make sure to squat and lift the snow with your legs, not your back. Second, avoid bending over at the hip flexors. Lastly, keep the shovel close to your body and walk to where you will dump the snow instead of over-extending, twisting or leaning to toss it.

Dress right. Layer, layer, layer. Skip the frostbite and retain the quality workout. Being too cold can be dangerous and will tighten up your muscles. Dress in winter layers, wear good boots with traction (snow and ice mixed can be treacherous) and cover up your hands, ears and head.

- Life Fitness

Number to Know

8: During sleep, the body recovers from the labors of the day. Doctors recommend sleeping about eight hours each night to allow your brain and metabolic system to recover.

- Life Fitness

Children's Health

It's often hard to squeeze in both "me time" and "family time" when you have a busy day, and especially when you want to stay fit to boot - 18 percent of respondents to Aetna's "what's your healthy?" survey cite family demands as a reason for not having time to be physically active. "Exergaming" (short for exercise gaming) is a great way to work out alone or with your kids. Grab the kids' game console and get moving. You can dance, play tennis, and even golf - and get your entire body into it.

- Brandpoint

Senior Health

Similar to how a roadmap guides you from point A to point B, the results of preventive screenings give your doctor insight on your heart health today and where it might be in the future. Important screenings and numbers to know include cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass index. Ask your doctor if you're in the normal range or if you should make lifestyle changes.

- Brandpoint

New Research

If you've had shingles, you might have an increased risk of a stroke or heart attack later in life, according to new research. The online issue of Neurology recently published a study about shingles, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

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