November 7, 2008

Snow Shoveling Safety

If you have lived through a Winnipeg winter, chances are that you are well acquainted with your snow shovel. Winnipeg receives an average of 115 centimetres of snow each winter, so we have plenty of opportunity to exercise our shoveling muscles. On the plus side, this is an excellent way to stay active during the winter. Health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, and shoveling definitely counts towards that total.

However, research shows that, after heavy snowfalls, there is an increase in the number of heart attacks and fatal heart attacks among snow shovelers. If you take appropriate precautions and keep safety in mind, shoveling snow can be an invigorating activity and help keep you physically fit.


  • If you are not very active, don't do heavy work regularly, or have a history of heart trouble, speak with your doctor before shoveling

  • Begin shoveling slowly to avoid placing a sudden demand on your
    heart. Also, pace yourself and take regular rest breaks.

  • Use a shovel that is suited to your needs and capabilities. A smaller
    shovel will lift less snow and put less strain on your body.

  • If you have concerns about your ability to shovel snow, consider
    delegating the task to a friend, neighbour or family member.

If you are shoveling, be alert to the signals of heart attack, which can include pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating (cool, clammy skin).

If you are experiencing the warning signals of a heart attack, stop all activity and call 911, or have someone call for you.

Related Information

Winter Weather Safety

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