As the first real snow of the season comes our way, we wanted to take the chance to remind you to
Use Your Head (and protect your heart) when Shoveling Snow!
Good news: Those flakes falling from the sky provide an excellent opportunity for cardiovascular exercise! Yes, shoveling – or walking behind a snow blower – is a great way to take advantage of chores as exercise.
What is the bad news?
Cold weather increases the work load on your body. Not only are you shoveling, your body is trying to keep warm, and your lungs are working harder to process the cold air. This can lead to problems, especially if you have an underlying heart issue.
What should you do?
- Think about it first: If you’ve had a heart attack, have a family history of heart attacks, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, smoke, or lead a sedentary lifestyle, consider if you are healthy enough for moderately intense activity. Talk with your doctor and get creative about how to limit your risks.
- Drink water: Yes, it is cold, but you can still become dehydrated!
- Dress in layers: Start warm and remove layers as you work.
- Warm up your muscles: Don’t just dive in – take a couple of minutes to walk around, move your arms, do some deep knee bends before you start.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine: Stimulants increase your heart rate – which puts more stress on your heart. Smoking while shoveling is particularly problematic.
- Begin slow: Take small swipes, walk slowly, and lift light loads. Pace yourself and take frequent breaks.
- Use the right equipment: Pick a shovel that allows you to carry and lift comfortably.
- Stop! If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea – stop immediately. If the symptoms do not go away within a minute or two, get help right away.
Enjoy the wonders of the winter – and be safe!
Eliz Greene works busy people to improve heart health, so they can work well, feel better, and stress less.
She is a heart attack survivor and the author of the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart as well as 3 other books on wellness. She writes one of the top 50 health and wellness blogs and is a sought-after heart health, stress management, & wellness speaker.
If you are planning a women’s wellness program, workplace wellness program or programs for healthcare professionals check out EmbraceYourHeart.com to see if Eliz would be a good fit with your organization.