Is Shoveling Snow Good For Your Health or Dangerous? - Backyard Boss
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Is Shoveling Snow Good For Your Health or Dangerous?

Winter is peeking around the corner, and it’s only a matter of time before the first snowfall of the season. While waking up to your neighborhood covered in fresh snow makes the whole world seem like a winter wonderland, the thought of shoveling snow off your driveway may put an end to the awe.

However, you may have a valid excuse to outsource the chore of shoveling snow. The combination of cold temperatures and strenuous exercise could be dangerous for some folks. So before you grab that snow shovel and head outside, read the post below to learn more about the risks and benefits involved.

Don’t Push It

Snowy street in a city
Image credits: Sangga Rima Roman Selia via Unsplash

Snow shoveling is a strenuous activity, especially if you have a long driveway. In cold weather, your body is already doing extra work to keep you warm. When you add a strenuous activity for a long period, you’re putting a lot of extra stress on your body, which leads to an increase in heart rate. This increase in blood flow leads to an increase in the risk of a heart attack.

If you don’t take the necessary precautions, you might be risking a heart attack. Folks over 55 or those with an underlying heart condition should stay away from snow removal altogether. Consider investing in a snowblower to help you remove all those pounds of snow and avoid a trip to the emergency department.

It is especially true if you’re not used to exercising and staying physically fit. In cold weather, our arteries and blood vessels constrict, which drives up our blood pressure. On top of this, adding too much exertion too quickly can trigger a heart attack. The risk is even higher if you’ve been more sedentary than usual over the winter months.

Bend At The Knees

Image credits: YellowstoneNPS via Creative Commons

Besides the cardiac arrest concerns outlined above, many other injuries may be of concern when snow shoveling. All it takes is one wrong move to tweak a back muscle or induce a neck spasm. If you have a bad back, you’ll want to check out our best ergonomic snow shovel for bad back reviews.

On top of this, frozen ground is slippery. You could easily slip on some ice and injure yourself that way. And what about that lawn chair that was somewhere outside before the snow came? You don’t want to trip over that.

Get Your Exercise Another Way

father and sun sledding down a hill
Image Credit: Daren Mehl from Pixabay

Some folks may argue that shoveling snow off their driveway is a winter exercise activity. While this is true, since shoveling snow is a strenuous activity, it’s not going to have a significant positive effect on your health or fitness.

It is because you’re not likely to be doing it often enough to make a significant difference to your fitness. Unless you’re shoveling all the driveways in the neighborhood, it’s not going to be an effective way to get good exercise over the winter months.

Besides, doing the same motion over and over again for hours is not going to give you a balanced workout. Repetitive movements are a good way to stress a muscle or strain a ligament.

Things To Consider

A boy shoveling the snow
Image Credits: Stacey Kennedy from Pixabay

If you have to shovel your driveway, put your safety first by following these guidelines. First, read our post on how to shovel snow.  Once you’re up to speed, check out snow and ice removal hacks for effective shortcuts.

Dress warmly. It is an important step in reducing the strain on your heart that comes with shoveling snow in the cold. You’ll probably warm up with the heat from the activity but resist shedding any layers. If you keep your body warm with warm clothes, your heart can focus on dealing with the stress of the exercise.

If you start feeling unwell, in any capacity, stop, especially if you break out into a cold sweat or feel chest pain. It’s not worth it. The snow on your driveway can wait. Know the heart attack warning signs so that you can react appropriately if you notice any of them coming on.

Break the job up. You don’t have to do the whole driveway in one go. Break the driveway up into sections and tackle each section as you feel fit.

Don’t be a hero. If you’re tired, take a break. Rest well and rest often. It will be worth it in the long run.

Sometimes, it’s worth hiring somebody else to do a job you’re perfectly capable of doing yourself. Hire a neighborhood teenager to do the job for you. Younger hearts and younger bodies can withstand more stress in more adverse conditions. So put your feet up and let the youngsters clear the snow off your driveway.

Last Words

Depending on your age and level of health, shoveling snow can be a dangerous activity. The combination of cold temperatures and strenuous activity could spell disaster for older folks, unhealthy folks, or those with an underlying heart condition.

If you’re looking for a way to get some exercise at home during the winter months, find another activity. There’s more chance of picking up an injury than some buff muscles when it comes to shoveling snow.

Comment below if you have any questions, and let’s have a discussion.