Shovel Snow Safely

5395003787_2f89cac097_zWinter isn’t over yet, and since our local groundhog predicted at least another six weeks of cold we should revisit how to shovel snow safely. No one likes a trip to the hospital, especially if it could have been prevented. We know it doesn’t seem like something you should have to put that much thought into, but snow shoveling can put a lot of strain on your body, especially your cardiovascular system and if you don’t take precautions, this strain could push into the danger zone very quickly.

Shoveling is fairly strenuous exercise – every time you lift a shovelful of snow is like lifting a set of weights. According to this CTV article – “Dr. Robert Beanlands, chief of cardiology at the Ottawa Heart institute, says shovelling can be one of the most dangerous activities for people with heart disease.” Even without heart disease, it can be harmful to overdo it.

Here are some tried and true tips to make sure that you stay safe while shoveling your driveway:

  • Stretch – It may initially sound silly, but think about it; would you stretch before lifting weights or doing cardio? Shoveling snow covers both of these activities! Taking five to 10 minutes to stretch out your arms and legs before you grab your shovel could mean the difference between getting the job done and pulling a muscle.
  • Take smaller shovelfuls – This is especially important when the snow is particularly damp (packing snow). The heavier it is, the less you should be shoveling at a time. It may take a little longer, but you will feel better for it in the long run.
  • Take breaks if you need them – feeling tired? Lots of snow? Take the time for a mid-shovel hot chocolate if you are getting fatigued. It’s when we overexert that we run into problems – especially when it comes to the ol’ ticker. If you’re feeling tired, take a minute. Again, it will all pay off in the end.
  • Stretch again! – You’ve just given yourself a great seasonal workout – it’s time to stretch it out. Stretching after shoveling can help prevent your muscles from aching later.

With more snow expected in the forecast, heed this advice and keep yourself safe and healthy through the rest of this winter season.

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