Healthy Snow Shoveling

By: Danielle Banks
By: Danielle Banks

Larry Kelley has had a busy day. He says, "We've been trying to get dug out most of the morning and just kind of going slow at it." But he's also taking it easy. "We're taking time to sled, says Kelley. " Walk around and talk to the neighborhood and go back and shovel a little bit more."

And taking it easy is the way to go according to Dr. Robert Underwood. Especially if you're not used to gettig your heart rate up. He says, "When they put out this exertion and they're not in good cardiovascular shape they go out and push themselves harder than they normally would." Long periods of stress on the body could lead to a heart attack. Dr. Underwood continues, "Even when they get tired they see there is still a job to do so they feel they need to work and push themselves beyond what their cardiac capacity is."

But that isn't the only risk. Back injuries and hypothermia are also a concern. "The other thing is there is going to be slipping and falling in the snow," says Underwood. "That's probably what we've seen more than anything else. You'll get some snow cleared off and it becomes slippery and people will try to walk across it and fall and break an arm, a hip, or something like that."

So what's your best bet? Stretching before and after is a good idea, but taking frequent breaks is even better. "When you feel like you're getting tired go in," says Underwood. "Get some rest if you can and go back out and attempt it a little bit at a time."

That's the method Larry Kelley says he's sticking to. He says, "I think everybody else shoveling on the streets is doing the same thing so."

An RMH spokesperson says they have not seen any patients with heart failure due to snow shoveling today, but everyone should still use caution.


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