Every winter, about 1,200 Americans die from a cardiac incident, such as a heart attack, during or after a snowstorm. Shoveling snow is often the cause of the cardiac incident. It is recommended that people with low physical activity, or those who rarely exercise, abstain from shoveling. The sudden stress shoveling can put on an inactive persons heart could be fatal. If you do not have any health problems, then you should be able to safely shovel snow by properly preparing. Here are tips for proper snow shoveling. These tips will help you understand the safest ways to shovel.
Avoid caffeine and a heavy meal just before shoveling as both could add stress to your heart.
Dress Warm – Wear cotton socks with insulated and waterproof boots. A warm hat that covers your ears is essential, especially if it is windy. The wind can make it feel even colder outside and cause frost bite to your ears. Wear gloves that aren’t too bulky so that you can get a good grip on the shovel.
Bring a large water bottle with you outside, which will help you remember to drink. Keeping a bottle outside will make it easier for you to drink, as you won’t have to go inside each time you need a drink.
Stretch your muscles and go for a brisk, 1-2 minute walk in order to get your heart beat up.
Snow Shoveling Tips
Use plastic shovel instead of a metal shovel. Plastic shovels are lighter and are easier to use.
Use a shovel with a smaller blade. This will limit the weight of snow that you will be pushing and therefore will limit your chances for injury.
Spray a silicone lubricant on the blade of the shovel. This will make the snow slide off and also prevent it from sticking. Take time to use a lubricant, as it can really help make shoveling easier.
Do not throw snow over your shoulder. The safest way to shovel is to push the snow away from you.
The safest way to shovel is to bend your legs slightly at the knee, letting your thigh muscles do most of the pushing and lifting work. This will reduce strain on your heart and back.
If you are at home during the start of a heavy snowfall, consider heading out to shovel after just an inch or two of snowfall. Going outside to shovel in shifts will be easier and quicker than shoveling several inches of heavy snow.
Immediately stop shoveling and go inside if you feel dizzy, weak, light headed, chest pain, or unusual shortness of breath.
Do some light stretching to cool down.
Once you get indoors, it’s important to re-hydrate yourself, especially if you did not drink plenty of fluids while you were out shoveling. The best drink for re-hydrating is a electrolyte filled drink (also known as sports drinks), such as Gatorade.
Warm yourself up with a high protein soup. Not only will you get warmed up quickly, but you will quickly feel your energy return to a regular level.
Avoid drinking caffeine or smoking for at least an hour after shoveling. Caffeine and smoking can elevate your blood pressure and heart rate, increasing your risk for a heart attack.
The article discusses tips for safe snow shoveling. Tips include stretching before shoveling and dressing properly.