Shoveling snow is serious business. Snow is a lot heavier than you think, and it is no different than other forms of physical exercise so take into consideration your health and your level of fitness. Shoveling puts a lot of stress on the body in a short period of time. Shoveling snow causes a quick increase in the heart rate and blood pressure. Follow these tips to hopefully avoid injury.
- Use a smaller shovel so that you are not lifting as much. A curved handle shovel is designed to prevent back strain.
- Plastic shovels weigh less than metal, and snow is not as likely to stick so you will be using less weight.
- Before you start shoveling, make sure you are warmed up. Do some stretches just as you would before working out.
- Take breaks. Start slowly and work at a steady pace. The snow is not going anywhere, and fast shoveling compromises your health.
- If it is cold out, layer your clothing so that you are well insulated.
- When snow is falling, shovel frequently so that snow does not accumulate and turn to ice.
- Remain hydrated while shoveling by increasing liquid intake. Lack of hydration causes dizziness and fainting. Do not drink caffeinated beverages or energy drinks because they can elevate your heart rate.
- Shovel with your feet about hip width for balance, and bend from the knees to protect your back. Avoid twisting movements, and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow.
- If you have a history of heart disease or are elderly, hire someone to dig you out. Shoveling snow can be a serious health risk. Your safety is more important than risking injury or a heart attack
- Finally, listen to your body. Some signs that you should quit shoveling are basically anything that is not normal. Shortness of breath, heavy sweating or any other kind of pain means you should stop shoveling.
Those most at risk for a heart attack include anyone who has had a heart attack or a history of heart disease, people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, smokers and people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.