Winter brings frigid temperatures, icy road conditions and endless amounts of snow. The snow may look pretty at first, but there can be serious implications if your body is not prepared.
Physical exertion from shoveling along with cold temperatures causes the heart to work harder than usual and can result in a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. Many people they think shoveling is a simple chore but consider how your body is affected.
A study completed by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that each year from 1990-2006 approximately 100 deaths and 11,500 injuries attributed to shoveling snow were treated in the United States. The lower back is the region of the body most frequently injured, with injuries to arms, hands and head following. Of all cases reported, 7% of the injuries were cardiac related and were the most serious, accounting for half of the hospitalizations and 100% of the fatalities.
Consider the following tips the next time you prepare to shovel snow:
Warm up. Before going outside warm up your muscles by doing simple stretches and light movements to get your heart pumping.
Wear Layers. Dress in multiple layers. You can always remove layers if you get too warm while shoveling but it’s better for your body to be warm than cold.
Bend Knees. Push the snow rather than lift. Painful back Injuries occur when all the pressure is put on your back. Lifting with your knees will reduce the strain on your body.
Make Multiple Trips. Pace yourself. Go outside and shovel every few hours. It’s better to shovel a few inches each hour rather than leaving it all to be done at once.
Stay Hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
You might also consider alternatives to shoveling snow such as hiring someone to shovel or using a snow blower. These practices are imperative for adults over the age of 55 because those are the people more likely to suffer a serious injury.
Practice these safety tips and pay attention to what your body is telling you the next time you shovel. For more tips and information visit the American Heart Association.