Let's face it - this is turning out to be "one of those" winters.  Lots of cold.  Lots of wind.  And, lots of snow.  It seems like we get hit with a wallop as one low front leaves and another one follows right behind it, dumping snow that needs to be removed one way or another.

For some, snow removal is easier.  Even though it takes time, those who use a plow or snowblower make easy work of handling that snow and getting it out of the way.

Those who don't have a plow or snowblower though, are forced to deal with the snow the hard way; by hand; with a shovel.

Even if you appreciate and enjoy the physical exercise provided by manual snow shoveling, it's a lot of work; it's hard on your muscles; and it's exhausting.

It can also be life-threatening.

The older a person gets, the more taxing the shoveling process is on the body.  It's just a fact of life that as you get older, complications can start to arise from strenuous activity that you're not used to doing on a regular basis.

Medical research spells out the dangers that exist for snow shovelers as they age.  Dr. Barry Franklin, a cardiologist, explains:

"You've got a perfect storm here.  You're asking the heart to do a tremendous amount of work, and you're simultaneously increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and constricting the coronary arteries.  Every year we lose 1,000 to 1,500 individuals across the U.S. who died suddenly while shoveling heavy wet snow."

Dr. Franklin's spent decades researching the link between snow shoveling and sudden cardiac arrest, after losing to close friends in that fashion.


Even when the results aren't fatal, the medical implications can be bad.  Dr. Franklin's research bears that out:

"A peer-reviewed study published in 2010 estimated that nearly 200,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for health issues involving snow shovelings from 1990 to 2006, an average of roughly 11,500 people a year."

That same study "recorded 1,647 deaths, all of them cardiac-related".

Just as the chances for cardiac issues increased with general aging, so does the potential for having cardiac problems associated with snow shoveling.  Dr. Franklin's research shows that "probably 85% of all U.S. adults have underlyng arteriosclerotic cardiac disease".

So if it's a given that there's a link between snow shoveling and cardiac incidents, what is a person to do?  Stop shoveling?  Maybe not quite.  But there is a generally-arrived at age that adults should consider having someone else pick up the shovel for them.

While it's not set in stone, Dr. Franklin's research suggests that middle age adults should reconsider handling their own snow shoveling.  He "....cautions anyone over 45 against shoveling snow because they could face a 'perfect storm' of factors linked to heart attacks". One of Dr. Franklin's colleagues - Dr. Luke Laffin, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic - concurs, although he plays "a little looser" with the age.  Laffin "encourages people to stop once they turn 55".

Even Dr. Franklin agrees that sometimes the specific age number can be deceiving. He offers that "sometimes, I see a guy who's 70 who really looks and functions like he's 40, and other people vice-versa".

Because we do live in the Northland and we do get snow, it's inevitable that you'll need to clear it away - and often by yourself.  If you find yourself in that situation, here are some ways to make that snow shoveling a little easier on yourself.  Click here to read more information.  You can also click here for additional tips.

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