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Snow shoveling safety: Should you stop shoveling snow?

Snow shoveling safety: Should you stop shoveling snow?

Snow shoveling is well-known to be a strenuous activity, but many people might not be aware of many of the risks. It can cause injuries and even, at certain times, death. Thus, to maintain snow shoveling safety, it's important to be aware of the potential risks, especially if you are over a certain age or have a sedentary lifestyle.

You can avoid these risks by making the right preparations before you start shoveling. However, you might also want to think about whether or not you should shovel snow at all. If you’re a certain age, or if you have certain medical conditions or physical limitations, then you might want to reconsider shoveling your driveway and walkways yourself.

The age factor

Shoveling snow can be tough on the body, especially as we age. It’s a physical activity that takes a lot out of the body and is comparable to running on the treadmill. Additionally, you’ll need to watch out for other factors aside from the physical toll. Doing any physical activity in the cold can put even more stress on your body and increase your blood pressure.

Once you reach a certain age, shoveling snow is more likely to lead to injury or even heart problems. Some experts say that people over 55 should no longer shovel snow, while others recommend stopping at age 45.

To cover your bases, if you're over the age of 45, it's important to consult your doctor before shoveling snow. They can help you assess your risks and make sure that you're healthy enough to handle the strenuous activity. Depending on your overall physical health and level of activity, your doctor might give you the green light to take on snow shoveling.

However, it’s important to note that your age isn’t the only factor you should take into consideration. If you’re younger than 45, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be able to physically handle shoveling. Your health and lifestyle are important factors as well.

Physical and medical conditions

Winter weather can be incredibly beautiful, but it can also be very dangerous. Every year, people are injured or even experience fatal health issues while shoveling snow. Before you venture out into the cold, you should take your physical health and medical conditions into consideration. If you have any heart or respiratory problems, for example, you should avoid shoveling snow. Even if you're healthy, you should be careful not to overexert yourself.

Fitness level

If you're relatively young, you might not think twice about shoveling snow. However, it might surprise you to know that even if you’re young, you should take your fitness level and lifestyle into account when shoveling snow.

If you lead a mostly sedentary life and shoveling snow is the most physical activity you get all year, then you might want to be more careful. Snow shoveling can be strenuous exercise, so if you're not used to it, you could end up injuring yourself. Take some time to warm up before you start shoveling, and take breaks often to avoid getting too tired. If you start to feel any pain, stop immediately and rest. Make sure to pay close attention to how you feel and pace yourself.

All in all, if you’re not used to exercises that work your heart and lungs, then shoveling can be more strenuous than you’re used to.

Heart conditions

If you have a heart condition or you're at risk of heart disease, you should not shovel snow at all. This is because shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity that can put a lot of strain on your heart. Additionally, cold weather can also aggravate heart conditions. So if you want to stay safe and avoid any potential heart problems, it's best to just stay inside and let someone else do the shoveling.

No matter what your age is, having heart disease or even just being at risk for it makes shoveling highly dangerous for you. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need a snow-free driveway. If no one in your household is physically able to shovel snow, you can ask around your neighborhood if anyone is willing to shovel your driveway and walkways for a fee. If possible, moving somewhere warmer might be worth considering.

Effects of shoveling snow

Many people enjoy the winter season because of the snowfall. While snow can be beautiful to look at, it can also be a pain to shovel. For some, shoveling snow is simply a nuisance. For others, it can be a dangerous activity. Snow shoveling can lead to serious injuries, including back problems, heart attacks, and head injuries.

Heart rate and blood pressure

Snow shoveling can thus be especially dangerous. By itself, the physical activity involved in snow shoveling can put a lot of stress on the body. However, the low temperatures can make things worse.

As the weather gets colder, we need to be increasingly careful of our heart health. Cold weather causes our arteries to constrict, which can lead to higher blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the heart and muscles. However, strenuous activity needs our arteries to open up. Allow more blood flow, and reduce the strain on our heart. Because of this, doing strenuous physical tasks in the cold can lead to higher blood pressure and poor blood flow, resulting in greater work for the heart.

Thus, it's important to take it slow and take breaks often. This is especially true if you’re typically not very physically active.

Snow shoveling safety tips

When it comes to shoveling snow, safety is always a top priority. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while shoveling this winter:

  • Warm up before you start shoveling. A few simple stretches will help to prevent muscle strain.
  • Take breaks often. Don’t try to shovel all of the snow at once. If you need to take a break, sit down on a snowbank or lean on your shovel for support. Pacing yourself will help you avoid getting too tired.
  • Dress for the weather. Make sure you’re wearing warm, layered clothing and gloves to protect your hands from the cold. You'll be outside for a while, so make sure you're wearing plenty of layers.
  • It's also important to wear boots with good traction. You don't want to slip and fall while you're shoveling.
  • Use a light, plastic shovel to avoid putting too much strain on your back. Also, remember to push the snow instead of lifting it.

Check out more snow shoveling safety tips.

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