Stay Alive Shoveling Snow

The BBC quotes cardiologist Barry Franklin – “an expert in the hazardous effects of snow removal” - as saying he advises anyone over 55 not to shovel snow because of all the heart attacks it causes.

OK, Barry. Who’s going to come shovel my 30 foot walkway and 1/3 mile drive way?

He does have a point however. In a study between 1990 and 2006 at the US Children’s Hospital (don’t ask me why a children’s hospital did this research) they recorded 1,647 fatalities from cardiac injuries related to shoveling snow.

The sudden exertion gets your heart racing and your blood pressure up. The cold constricts your blood vessels, making things worse. Using your arms is far more exertion than your legs (blood pressure and heart rate get higher than on a treadmill). People shoveling are often couch potatoes of a total sedentary nature at any other time. And it’s “goal orientated” meaning you don’t want to stop until you’ve got it all done –to avoid getting shit from the missus.

To stay alive:


  • Give yourself regular breaks
  • Don’t eat, or especially drink alcohol before shoveling
  • If you feel like you’ve got an elephant sitting on your chest (to use the colloquial description of angina) – quit.
  • Pay some kid to do it for you.

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