The risks associated with shoveling snow

The risks associated with shoveling snow

Spring is nearly here, but some parts of the country may still see some snow.

You may not think of shoveling snow as that tough a task. But the American Heart Association says shoveling snow in cold temperatures can be dangerous. Their research indicates that the physical strain of shoveling snow may lead to an increased risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest.

The cold temperature exacerbates the strain because cold air causes blood vessels to constrict throughout the body. By constricting, your blood vessels raise your blood pressure.

As you might imagine, shoveling snow depends on your arms, which is much more taxing on your heart than activities that require leg strength.

Also, when we lift heavy objects, say, shovels full of snow, we often unconsciously hold our breath. This also leads to significant increases in heart rate and blood pressure.

Speaking of blood, it tends to pool in our lower extremities as we shovel because we are, more or less, standing still. That means oxygenated blood is not getting back to the heart nearly as fast.

Here’s how to shovel the white stuff and stay safe doing so.

Experts recommend that you start gradually and pace yourself. Pushing or sweeping the snow may be easier because it involves less exertion than lifting and tossing the snow.

Always cover your mouth and nose, wear layered clothing and don’t forget a hat and gloves.

If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, you might consider a snow blower. The American Heart Association says they have been scientifically proven to have less of an impact on your heart rate than shoveling snow.

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