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Be safe when doing snow removal

To hold in body heat, try wool or polypropylene instead of cotton as the inner layer.

Winter is well underway, so this is a good time to review some snow removal tips, whether you use a snowblower or a shovel. Proceed with caution with winter activities and follow your health-care provider’s advice, especially if you have a history of heart disease.

Researchers have reported an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks among snow shovellers after heavy snowfalls. In one study, after only two minutes of shovelling, sedentary men’s heart rates rose to levels higher than those normally recommended during aerobic exercise.

By lifting correctly, you also can avoid injuring your back. Pick the right shovel for you. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, but put less strain on your body.

Lift correctly by standing with your feet about hip-width apart for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements. If you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be going.

Don’t forget to:

Warm up your muscles before going outside to shovel. Walk for a few minutes or march in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.

Stay warm by dressing in several layers. To hold in body heat, try wool or polypropylene instead of cotton as the inner layer. Your outer layer should be wind resistant and tightly woven.

Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning. These are stimulants, which may increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, placing extra stress on the heart.

Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is just as big an issue in cold winter months as it is in the summer. – Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D., is a North

Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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