The Dangers of shoveling snow are real. Colder weather makes it more serious. Warmer winter weather comes with it’s own dangers.
Shoveling snow by those of us over 60, is a health consideration that we can’t afford to ignore. The dangers are there. What are they?
Risks To Know About Snow Shoveling
The health challenges of older adults may preclude the job of shoveling snow. The dangers are real. First on the list of risks, Heart attack.
Studies have shown that one hundred people die every year in the United States, while shoveling snow. Some experts believe the number to be much higher. The risks in sedentary, older people is higher. The sudden, heavy exertion of shoveling snow places unusual strain on the heart.
Statistics showing the number of non-fatal heart attacks were not available.
It has been shown that early morning snow shoveling, a time when cardiac risks are highest, can also place excess strain on the heart.
Heavy exercise in cold air, normally the case during snow removal, raises blood pressure and heart rate more than other forms of exercise.
Finally, blood vessels constrict in cold air. That slows blood flow, increasing the risk of cardiac issues including a heart attack.
There are other things that occur during snow shoveling that can have adverse effects on health.
Normally the legs do the strenuous work. Snow shoveling calls for the arms to do most of the work. This role change has the result of increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
Many of us who begin strenuous work, will have the tendency to hold our breath at points during the heaviest exercise. The result is added strain on the heart due to slower oxygen flows.
When the weather warms, new risks arise. With heavy work comes perspiration. The desire is to remove heavy coats and hats. Both can be a mistake. They can lead to hyperthermia or worse. Expose you to phenomena in the days to come.
What The American Heart Association Has To Say
- Give yourself a break.
- Use a small shovel
- Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body.
- Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling.
- Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
- Chest discomfort.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body.
- Shortness of breath.
- Breaking out in a cold sweat.
What Else Do We Need To Think About
Healthy living after 60 should include an exercise routine. One that helps keep the body limber, agile and ready to be active.
Normally a routine of daily exercise does not include heavy sustained lifting like that found when shoveling snow. The results of new heavy exercise will likely include sore arms, legs and back. Use extra caution with back pain. It may be a sign of something beyond a muscle pull.
The unintended consequences of snow shoveling, will be an interruption in the healthy exercise routine designed to keep you active. Enjoying the ‘golden’ years is much more pleasant when the body doesn’t ache from heavy work loads.
When I was young, I spent all day doing strenuous work. I still had the energy to work out and engage in sports. (amateur)
Not so now. I lost most of that as I sped past sixty. Today my focus is not getting hurt in the activities I do. Be honest, sometimes just getting a ladder out of the garage seems like work.
As I think about that, I wonder what would happen if one of us slipped and fell on the frozen driveway or walk? What if nobody noticed and we laid there for thirty minutes? What if one of us broke a hip in the fall?
Experts seem to agree. If you are bent on doing your own snow removal, use a snow blower. I know many who enjoy the work of driving their John Deere garden tractors with a plow or blower.
Healthy Living After 60 is designed and dedicated to keeping seniors living long and living well. If you know someone who should read these posts and reviews, I hope you’ll tell them about us.