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Safe Snow Shoveling Tips

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By Donna L. Hamilton, MD


Winter safety-snow

Snow. It’s an inescapable part of winter in many parts of the world.   It can bring peace to those who watch it from their warm, cozy indoor perch wrapped in warm clothes and nestling  a mug of hot chocolate.  Eventually, however, someone has to shovel it so driveways and sidewalks don’t become hazards.

The good news about shoveling snow: It burns a lot of energy and calories. Fifteen minutes of shoveling snow counts as moderate activity according to an early Surgeon General’s report on physical activity. That’s a significant workout.

The bad news: It can cause serious injuries if you don’t pay attention while doing it. Over 11,000 people end up in the emergency department due to injuries brought on by shoveling snow. These range from muscle sprains and strains to heart attacks. Yes, heart attacks. Remember, you’re getting a significant cardio workout combined with moving a fair amount of weight.

To decrease your chance of ending up in the emergency room use good judgment and remember a few safety tips:

1)     Remember shoveling snow is exercise. Use the same precautions you do with other forms of exercise. Make sure you know your limitations, stop if you feel out of breath or light headed, and generally pay attention to the signals your body is giving you.


2)     Do a few warm up stretches to decrease your chance of muscle strains. For a short warm-up routine and other tips to avoid muscle injuries read these tips from a personal trainer.



3)     Dress appropriately.  Prevent frostbite on vulnerable areas like fingers, ears, and your nose by wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf. Wearing layers will allow you to remove a few items without dangerously exposing your skin if you start to feel hot from all the exercise.


4)     If you’re shoveling out a car while someone sits in it make sure to completely clear the exhaust pipe before turning on the engine. Carbon monoxide deaths frequently occur when someone sits in a running car to get warm and fumes back into the car because of a snow blocked exhaust pipe.


5)     Watch your footing to avoid slipping on ice. A bad spill on the ice might look funny but it can cause serious head trauma, joint injury, or muscle trauma.


Be safe. Be well!

Holistic wellness speaker Dr. Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS passionately teaches women what being healthy really means and how to do it in a way that fits their unique needs. She enthusiastically teaches a comprehensive approach to health and wellness that addresses mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical well-being. Dr. Hamilton-a former board certified pediatrician-now specializes in health optimization. She retired her white coat and stethoscope and now speaks nationally about holistically improving health and well-being.  For more information visit http://www.ManifestExcellence.com


© 2013 Donna L. Hamilton, MD