by: Andrea Nathanson, R.N. It is that time of season again when we are confronted with snow shoveling. Please keep in mind the following before engaging in any shoveling if you are over 50 years old or if you have any health conditions that could be affected by snow shoveling.
- Snow shoveling puts a strain on the heart. People have suffered from heart attacks/cardiac occurrences after a big snowstorm and shoveling is often that cause that has precipitated it. Shoveling causes the muscles to contract and work and if they are not well conditioned, this puts additional strain on the heart. The blood vessels are constricting to send more blood to the straining muscles, causing an increase in blood pressure.
- Dress warmly and warm up your muscles prior to shoveling by stretching – this is a very important step – and one that most people do not do.
- Keep hydrated. Have a water bottle handy.
- Rest often, take it easy.
- Push the snow rather than lift. Listing is a cardiac stressor, causing changes in blood pressure and heartbeat.
- Do not hold your breath – sometimes when lifting the snow people do this without realizing.
- Remember to stop if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, lightheadedness, or nausea.
- Cool down after you have shoveled.
- Don’t overdo it. If your body says stop – Listen! And don’t forget to mingle with neighbors and have fun!