The good news is that fifteen minutes of snow shoveling counts as moderate physical activity. The bad news is that researchers have reported an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks among snow shovelers after heavy snowfalls. This rise may be due to the sudden demand that shoveling places on one's heart. One study determined that after only two minutes of shoveling, a sedentary man's heart rates rose to levels higher than those normally recommended during aerobic exercise. Shoveling can be made more difficult by the weather; Cold air makes it harder to work and breathe, which adds some extra strain on the body.
With the most recent snow, and now upcoming snow, we thought you might find these tips helpful. To get a good handle on snow shoveling follow the safety tips below!!
1. Individuals over the age of 40 or those who are relatively inactive should be especially careful
2. If you have a history of heart trouble, do not shovel without a doctor's permission.
3. Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
4. Take it SLOW!! Shoveling (like lifting weights) can raise your heart rate and blood pressure dramatically; so pace yourself. Be sure to stretch out and warm up before taking on the task.
5. Shovel fresh snow! Freshly fallen, powdery snow is easier to shovel than the wet, packed-down variety.
6. Push the snow as you shovel. It's easier on your back than lifting the snow out of the way.
7. Don't pick up too much at once. Use a small shovel or fill only one-forth or one-half of a large one.
8. Lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and sitting into the movement you'll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso, and thighs can do the work for you.
9. Do not work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath take a break. If you feel tightness in your chest, stop immediately.
10. Dress warmly. Remember that extremities such as the nose, ears, hands, and feet need extra attention during winter's cold. Wear a turtleneck sweater, cap, scarf, face protection, mittens, warm socks, and waterproof boots.
12. If one needs to pick up the snow rather then push it then breathe out as you are picking it up. This puts a whole lot less stress on the heart.
We hope this makes your snow shoveling a little easier.
Enjoy the Snow :)
**Disclaimer- The above information is not a substitute for medical advice or an evaluation. If you have an injury, chronic ache, question, etc please contact your doctor.**
***Information provided by Beverly Kornides, PT, and MMI's Director of Rehab