Cardiologists say shoveling large amounts of snow for just a few minutes can significantly boost your heart rate and blood pressure – with increases equivalent to those achieved while running to exhaustion on a treadmill. This may help explain the rise in heart attacks seen annually during the winter. Individuals at risk of heart disease, particularly smokers and those with high “bad” cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, must be very cautious.
Shoveling snow in the winter is not to be taken lightly. The impact on your back and heart can be very serious. Follow these tips to keep you safe while shoveling this year:
- Warm up first; shoveling snow is like any other rigorous physical exercise.
- At the first sign of discomfort, go inside, call for medical help and lie down.
- Breath! Exhale when lifting the snow and inhale when returning for another scoopful.
- History of lower back pain? Consider a snow blower or hiring someone to shovel for you.
- Try to push, not lift, the snow, when you do lift, scoop half shovelfuls or less.
- Don’t let the snow accumulate. It’s easier to shovel your sidewalk and driveway three or four separate times than to clear all at once.