Safe Snow Shoveling

Safe Snow Shoveling

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling in the Winter

By Mackenzie Distad
Exercise Specialist / Exercise Physiologist
Exercisabilities, INC.

The cold weather we experience in Minnesota, along with the physical exertion of shoveling snow, can put strain on the heart. Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks, and can be more strenuous than exercising “full throttle” on a treadmill. If you need to clear away the snow this winter, here are some tips for keeping your heart safe!

  • Consult a doctor ahead of time. Before you start shoveling, talk with your doctor if you have a medical condition, do not exercise regularly or are middle-aged or older.
  • Don’t eat a big meal before or soon after shoveling. Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
  • Do not drink alcohol before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol can increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause you to underestimate the extra strain your body is under in the cold.
  • Give yourself a break. Take frequent breaks to avoid overstressing your heart. Pay attention to how your body feels during those breaks.
  • Use a small shovel or a snow thrower. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts. When possible, simply push the snow.
  • Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Carry your cellphone in your pocket and call 911 immediately if you experience any signs of a heart attack.
  • Check the weather. Besides cold temperatures, high winds, snow and rain also can steal body heat. Wind is especially dangerous, because it removes the layer of heated air from around your body. Similarly, dampness causes the body to lose heat faster than it would at the same temperature in drier conditions. If the weather conditions are becoming dangerous, try to stay inside – shoveling might need to wait.
  • Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of the body’s heat can be lost through the head.
  • Cover your face. Breathing in cold air can cause constriction of the airways in the lungs and also constriction of the blood vessels – increasing blood pressure. Use a mask or scarf to cover your mouth and nose if you are out in the cold to warm the air you inhale.
  • Find someone to help or do it for you. If you are worried about the physical exertion or your heart’s safety, find someone to help. A family member, friend or maybe a teenage neighbor could remove the snow safely for a few bucks!

Patrick J. Skerrett. (2016, June 20). Protect your heart when shoveling snow – Harvard Health Blog [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Snow shoveling heart risks, tips to stay safe – News on [Web log post]. (2016, January 22). Retrieved from


You can help with our 2018 Goals: 200 Twitter followers and 800 Facebook followers!

Follow us on  Twitter @Exercisabilitie and  Facebook @Exercisabilities

A Personal Trainer’s Perspective on Your New Year Resolutions

A Personal Trainer’s Perspective on Your New Year Resolutions

The Solution to Your Resolutions

Zach Curry, CPT
Certified Personal Trainer/Exercise Specialist

January is a tough month for most of us in the Midwest. We are coming off the highs of the holidays, work is ramped up with projects for the new year, kids are back in school, and in addition to all that, we still need to find time for selfcare. For most of us, that comes in the form of a New Year’s resolution. Thankfully the month of January is over. By this time, you probably have your schedule at work and home back on track, there is only one more month of winter left, and you are darn glad that January is over. I am sure most of your life transitioned very well into February except for one thing, your New Year’s resolution.

There is something so compelling about setting a New Year’s resolution. The whole idea of a new start, a new year, a new “you” are extremely comforting to us. It’s a time where we get a little relief from the things we want to fix about ourselves because we know once that new year starts it is all going to change. And then February hits. There are bills to pay, kids to feed, work to be done and you are not seeing results as fast as you wanted, and you just don’t see how you have time or energy to complete your New Year’s resolution. According to only 8 % of people accomplish their resolutions.

The problem is not that it is too hard or that you don’t have enough time. Instead it’s because you haven’t taken the proper steps when setting your goal.

Here are a few tips to staying on track all year.


Now that a month has passed take an honest look at the goal you have set.

Is it becoming increasingly difficult to find time for it?

Do you feel like it is draining you of your energy?

If you are feeling this way it is a good time to look at your goal and reassess. You don’t have to completely change it, but maybe set up some smaller sub goals that you can reach first. For instance, if your goal is to cut down on sugar, instead of going cold turkey try to track how much added sugar you consume in a day. Then try to shoot for a slightly smaller number from week to week. Doing this will keep your goals from being overwhelming and will give you a sense of accomplishment as you move through each sub goal.

It’s a new day, not a new year

Setting a goal for all of 2018 is a lot to ask of someone, let alone yourself. Instead try to make your main goal a part of each day by setting those sub goals. If you don’t get to it, no worries. It is ok to be frustrated. What is most important is how you react to your frustration. An example would be If your goal is to eat healthier meals and you break and have a cheeseburger. Getting upset at yourself and then giving up all together and going back to how you have eaten in the past is a poor reaction. What you should do is take a breath, recognizing that you are frustrated and remind yourself that it is only a moment of frustration, it will pass.

Every morning brings the opportunity of a new day. Write down your small goal for the day and get to it.

They are your accomplishments

My final piece of advice is to remember that your accomplishments are for you. Your goals should be something you truly want to change, it must come from within. If you goal is to save money for your family be sure you remind yourself it is because you love them, and you want what is best for them because that in turn brings you happiness. Do your best to compare your accomplishments to your accomplishments only. It is very easy to fall down the rabbit whole of negative thinking when we compare ourselves to other people who we assume are ahead of us. It is important to remember they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do. It is ok to be inspired by others but remember this is your journey, not theirs.

Try these steps the next time you feel like quitting on your goal. Accomplishing goals is about having balance. Being gritty, but also remembering to breathe and forgive yourself when you fall short. It is about doing something for “you” not for your boss, significant other, or your kids. Motivation is often at its greatest when it comes from within.

Good luck on your goals for 2018, keep your head up and get after it!

You can help with our 2018 Goals: 200 Twitter followers and 800 Facebook followers!

Follow us on  Twitter @Exercisabilitie and  Facebook @Exercisabilities

Rewalk Exoskeleton System

What is ReWalk?

It’s More Than Walking

ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) to stand upright and walk. ReWalk is the first exoskeleton to receive FDA clearance for personal and rehabilitation use in the United States.

The ReWalk Personal System 6.0 is designed for all day use at home and in the community. The ReWalk is custom fit for each individual and provides the most precise fit and highest walking speed of any powered exoskeleton.



Watch Videos to see testimonials:


Click here to see if you are a candidate for a ReWalk trial:


Rock for Recovery Gala 2017

We’re just DAYS away from our Rock for Recovery Gala Fundraiser and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ve got our Rock-N-Roll costumes ready and we’ll be dancing through the rock eras, after we eat of course!

We’re hoping you can twist and shout the night away with us next Friday, November 10, 2017. If only every fundraiser could be this fun! Our rockin evening starts at 6:00 PM and tickets can still be purchased at RockForRecovery

Last year was a HIT!

Why a Fundraiser?

“But WHY?”, you ask? Why does Exercisabilities need to do a fundraiser? Good question!

The answer is in our mission statement: At Exercisabilities, we bring physical rehabilitation, health, wellness, and recreation programming to everyone, despite any need for adaptation, physical help or financial assistance to achieve safe, active, fun and effective recovery from any medical illness or physical impairment.

Such beautiful wordsdespite any need for adaptation, physical help or financial assistance. That’s what we’re about. Providing the adaptation equipment and staff regardless of a client’s insurance coverage for their rehabilitation. Insurance runs out all too soon for many of our clients.

It Takes a TEAM

We’re happy that we’re not in this alone! We have dedicated staff, often multiple staff members per client are needed.

Everyday Heroes

Our true heroes are our clients. We provide the staff, the equipment, the workout room and customized rehabilitation programs. Our clients provide the hard work, the determination, pure grit. They are amazing!

A Little Help from Our Friends

We’ve got the place, the staff, the programs and equipment. Our clients have the willpower, guts and determination. We’re looking to you, our friends, to help with some of the expenses.

Please consider joining us Friday, November 10, 2017 at the Somerby Golf Community Clubhouse from 6:00PM – 9:00PM. There will be dinner, raffle tickets, a silent auction, music and dancing.

Tickets can be purchased ASAP on our website:

Can’t make it to the Gala? Please consider a donation. We are now a 501c non-profit organization. Donate here.

We hope to see you soon. THANK YOU! Rock on.

Rock for Recovery Fundraiser 2017 (10)

Why is Exercisabilities a 501c3 nonprofit?

Many times a week I get asked, “why did you become a nonprofit?”  I usually say, “because we are here to care for people, and it made sense to do that as a nonprofit.”  Although, admittedly, the answer is quite broader than that.  And, maybe the question is much deeper than that.

What does being a nonprofit business mean?  Well, society usually has many different answers to this.  Factually, a 501c3 public charity is generally defined by the IRS as an organization which receives a substantial portion of its revenue from the general public or from government and has a mission that provides needed services for the good of the public.   One of the most distinct provisions unique to Section 501(c)(3) organizations is the tax deductibility of donations. 26 U.S.C. § 170, provides a deduction, for federal income tax purposes, for some donors who make charitable contributions to most types of 501(c)(3) organizations[2]. Also, many states allow 501(c)(3) organizations to be exempt from sales tax on purchases, as well as exemption from property taxes.  Although the IRS and the state of MN declare that a public charity should receive a substantial amount of revenue from public and government funding, the exact percentage amount is not defined.  In fact, it is strongly encouraged that nonprofit organizations think of themselves as a business with responsible financial management and establish income streams related to their nonprofit mission (income dollars not related to their mission may be taxable according to state and federal law) such as sliding scale fees.  At the end of the day, nonprofit’s have expenses just like any other for profit business.  Payroll, rent, administrative costs, heat, air, snow removal are all expenses that are not always worthy of donation or grant support but a reality for any organization that needs to be paid if they want to keep the doors open.  It is very important to remember that without funds to cover these real operational costs, your favorite nonprofit would not exist.  For more on this, watch this TEd Talks by Dan Pallotta.  It is a very compelling talk that will change your donor mindset forever.

As for Exercisabilities and the decision to become a nonprofit, making money for profit in the medical industry comes with many financial and ethical considerations.  First,  it is true that we seek reimbursement for all of our services.  First and foremost, we must keep the doors open and operationally must collect an income.  This reimbursement comes from many different sources including medical insurance, private payments (especially considering deductibles and co-insurances), or the county and state of MN waiver program. It took nearly $1,000,000 in 2016 just to keep the lights on and the staff paid well enough to be competitive in the work force.   For those of you who know, we did amazing work in 2016.  It would have been impossible to raise $1,000,000 without seeking reimbursement.  However, what does our reimbursement look like?  We run about 60%-70% Medicare/Medicaid casemix.  For those of you in the medical industry, this is very high.  Our Medicare reimbursement is at cost meaning that we get paid exactly what it costs us.  MN medicaid pays us $10 below our cost of providing care.  This means that we hare often receiving just at or below our cost to deliver care.  This = no profit.  But, it is enough to keep our doors open and do what we do well every day.  But, does it allow us enough to do any charity work.  No.

So why do we need donations to support our mission? There is a gap.  There is a huge gap.  There are people like R.J.  She has chronic pain.  It is debilitating and severe.  She has worked to improve it for years.  She is working hard to stay off narcotics and to live a socially fulfilling life, as well as earn a living at a job.  She has tried everything.  But what she has found works best is a great combination of gentle exercise, meditation and relaxation activities, and regular PT visits to work on many aspects of her pain both physically and cognitively.  Jared has helped her considerably to overcome her pain and return to work.  One day, her insurance said that they would no longer pay for her PT or provide any reimbursement for exercise classes – what has worked.  Without PT and access to affordable exercise instruction or equipment, she regressed.  She could no longer go to work, and no longer make a livable wage.  This is the gap that we see time and time again.  How can we help one person at a time return to a life without pain, with better mobility, with the ability to walk again. The stories could go on for days.  BW had a stroke in his cervical (neck) spinal cord at age of 58.  He was preparing to retire from a life of laboring hard at work, successful at both work and family.  He was single and his kids are all grown and moved away.  He was left as a 6 foot 8 inch tall quadriplegic.  He had some ability to move his legs, but not enough to stand or walk given his tall frame.  His arms were left unusable.  He had to move to a care home, get a power wheelchair that he could propel with his chin, and just sit there.  He became stiff and pain filled his body as the staff were unable to provide enough physical or social outlets for him to move.  He no longer qualified for Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy as he was now on Medicaid and all his savings depleted to zero.  There were no reimbursement for him, he was stuck.  One day, he found EA!  We worked to get BW out of his house and into an environment that he could move and exercise.  His pain went away and he could work on activities out of his wheelchair that made him move.  He loved it!  He got stronger and was better able to tolerate sitting all day.  He wanted to come to EA everyday.  We have been able to shift him to the Forever strong program now and he atleast comes 2 days a week.  With our fundraising efforts, we hope to get him to us more.  We got him out of the gap and feeling a part of his community again. He is healthier and happier.

What do we need to keep filling the gap?  Our Forever Strong Program is the answer.  Once our participants are done with what their insurance or therapists say is the end of their skilled, reimbursed PT/OT, they need another step.  A next phase where they keep coming and getting stronger, more socially interactive, and can learn to maintain their high physical level that was gained in PT or OT.  If they stop, they will certainly lose everything that they gained.  If they continue, our results show that they are healthier, happier, and better able to participate in their community without falls and hospitalizations.  This can save our local medical system millions of dollars in health care costs.  The Forever Strong Program can potentially partially funded by the county waiver program through the state of Minnesota.  In 2016, we became a 245D licensed facility so that we could help our participants access these funds. Thanks to this, we have started serving 31 individuals through this partially funded program, and the rest of our cost has been supported through our generous donors and grants.  In 2017 Q1-Q3, we served 31 individuals multiple times per week. However, we were only able to provide a portion of their recommended frequency due to needing to manage inadequate donation amounts to fully support the program.  The great news is that we provided 32 hours per week and provided $260/week of donated funding which equaled $14,000!  This is a great start for our first year!  Unfortunately, we currently have a huge list and are not fully providing the amounts that are recommended by the physician and therapist due to not reaching our fundraising goals yet.  Our goal is to provide for 100 clients in our forever strong program who fall into this gap of no reimbursement and poverty level financial status.  This will require nearly $300,000 per year in fundraising efforts in order to meet our goal.  How can you help?  Become a friend, attend our fundraiser, share the word about the great work that we are doing.

Attend our November Fundraiser or donate today!  We look forward to seeing you on November 10, 2017 at Somerby Golf Course at 6PM for Rock for Recovery.  Also, look for our online silent auction and participate even if you cannot attend the gala!