Did you know that shovelling snow can actually be dangerous? Statistically, it’s more dangerous for people aged 55 and up.1 But why?
Cold air causes arteries to constrict and decrease blood supply. “When healthy young men shovelled snow, their heart rate and blood pressure increased more than when they exercised on a treadmill.”1 When these two phenomena combine, there is a much better chance that the person will have a heart attack. The chances of this happening increase if the person does not exercise regularly and eats or smokes immediately before shovelling.
This year we haven’t had much snowfall in London, ON, but we are hopefully going to get some snow in 2018. In anticipation of some much-needed snow, we are sharing some tips for battling ice this winter.
Shovelling is exercise
Make sure you treat shovelling like the grueling work it is. It’s a lot of arm work and lifting. Before going out to shovel make sure that you stretch. Like any exercise, you want to make sure that you don’t eat immediately before you shovel and you don’t want to smoke while you are shovelling.
If it is snowing, don’t wait for it to stop snowing to shovel. Although this may seem like a smarter way of only having to do it once, you are creating a bigger job for yourself. Go out every half hour or hour, depending on how hard it is snowing and give the drive way a quick 5-minute scrape! This will go a long way to save you having to really exert yourself.
It is better to push the snow as this uses more of your leg muscles. If you have to lift the snow, then lift smaller loads and remember to use your legs to lift. Make sure you aren’t working yourself to the point of exhaustion. Take regular breaks and drink water.
Blowing the snow away
Using a snow blower also presents its own risks. Pushing the blower alone can cause enough physical exertion to elevate your blood pressure in your already cold and restricted arteries. Sometimes a snow blower will jam. Make sure you take the time to unplug the snow blower before removing the jam and use a solid object (stick or broom handle) to remove the blockage. As is the same with driving, do not drink alcohol or any substance that might impair your senses while using a snow blower.
One of the best things you can do if you are going to shovel is to shovel with a friend or have someone check on you. If you collapse from the strain of moving the snow, the last thing you will want is to be left freezing or dying in a snow bank.
Lastly, although this isn’t related to shovelling, make sure you defrost your car properly. In the winter, windows easily frost up and it is vital to have as much of a view of the road and your surroundings as possible.
Want to save time defrosting your windshield? Check out this “solution”:
By practicing these precautions, you will be much more likely to have a safer and happier winter.
1”Why Do People Die Shovelling Snow?” National Safety Council. 2017. Web.