So you just received a lovely white gift from Mother Nature- several fresh inches of snow is now covering your driveway and sidewalk. You have to get rid of it to get the car out of the garage and drive.

You might even need to make the trek to the mail box or get the daily paper. We aren’t all lucky or skilled enough to clean our snow like the kid below.

So what is the proper way to clear the snow? And no I wouldn’t recommend using a hoverboard. Snow shoveling can be back-breaking work, especially if it’s heavy and wet snow.

Shoveling is one of the bigger heart attack risks in the winter time. Cardiologist Grace Cater, MD from MetroHealth Medical Center says Shoveling, even pushing a heavy snow blower, can cause sudden increase in blood pressure and heart rate. The cold winter air will constrict the blood vessels.

The increased work load requires more oxygen to the heart, but the constricted blood flow actually decreases oxygen to the heart. This means the heart has to work significantly harder, which could trigger a heart attack.

Those that are at a higher risk for heart attacks during snow shoveling and other winter activities include:

  • Those with a prior heart attack
  • Those with known heart disease
  • Smokers
  • Those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol

There are some things you might want to consider before even throwing on the winter coat and gloves and heading outside to tackle the job.

You should not try shoveling right after waking up in the morning.

It’s a good idea to wait at least 30 minutes because blood actually has the highest chance of clotting in the morning shortly after you were sleeping. It’s a good idea to walk around some before going outside so you can increase the blood flow some.

It’s also not a bad idea to stretch a bit to reduce the chance of muscle pulls.

Time To Shovel

The best shovel for the job is one that is bent and relatively small. This means you will have to do less bending while pushing the snow. The small shovel is so you don’t try and lift too much snow at one time. It’s a good idea to take more passes on your driveway with less snow on each pass.

Yes you might take a little bit longer to get the whole job done, but you will greatly be reducing the threat of injury or heart attack.

Back injuries are the main issue with shoveling snow.

You should bend and lift more with your knees than with your back. The curved shovel also helps.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Take frequent, 10-minute breaks
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Dress in layers, to avoid getting too cold or two hot. This helps regulate body temperature
  • Cover your head and neck (50% body heat lost through this area)
  • Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can hurt your throat and trigger breathing problems)
  • Push snow, versus lifting, twisting and throwing it
  • Watch for warning signs of a heart attack.
  • Always err on the side of caution.

If you apply these tips than not only will you stay healthier, but you can also expect a nice clear driveway.

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About Brian Ivey

Brian is the President of Neoweather and has be one of the leaders of the organization since joining in 2011. Brian graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Kent State University and meteorology from Mississippi State University. Brian worked as a meteorologist and reporter in Youngstown and interned at Cleveland TV stations WKYC and WEWS. He loves Cleveland sports and enjoys going to games. You can also find him trying new spots to eat, traveling and being active outside.
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