Did you know shoveling snow is considered strenuous exercise? For some people, just the thought of having to move hundreds of pounds of snow and slush is enough to make their legs prickle and make your arms burn.
Cold weather, especially when the temperature drops to near or below freezing, forces your heart to work harder to keep your body warm.
The combination of cold temperatures and strenuous exercise can trigger a heart attack. Every year, about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack. More specifically, Robert H. Shmerling, MD, writes on the Harvard Health Publishing website that “about 100 people—mostly men —die during or just after shoveling snow each year in the US.”
Here are five ways to prepare your health to shovel snow in cold weather.
1) Check the weather. Before setting foot outside, check the weather to decide when to shovel and what to wear.
2) Use the right tool. Make sure to find the right shovel. A small plastic blade is the best. This shovel weighs less and limits you to small scoops. Be sure to lift with your legs and not with your back. Consider pushing the snow instead of lifting and throwing it.
3) Don’t overdo it. Take breaks frequently to catch your breath and hydrate. Shoveling snow is considered a cardiovascular exercise that involves muscles in your legs, back, core, shoulders, and arms, so hydrate before, during, and after shoveling.
4)Signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite. Adults who experience shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness should seek immediate medical attention and if a person’s temperature is below 95° F.
5) In case of emergency, call 911. If you notice the symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. A person with a heart attack does not need CPR, but they need to get to the hospital right away.
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