By Dustin Boudreau, Health and Wellness Columnist
First, let me acknowledge that by writing this article some may say I am jinxing us, but as I write this I am knocking on wood. Although, it is inevitable that snow will come for us before the end of winter. The questions are, when and how much? The metaphorical catapult has been building tension and ready to launch a snowball at us – so far, we have been lucky compared to the rest of the country and southern neighbours. Whether it starts out gently and piles up over a few snow falls, or four feet drops on us in one night – the shovels will eventually come out to be used.
In a study from Canada published in 2017, researchers in Quebec compared hospital admission records and death certificates for residents with records from an extensive weather database, for the years 1981 through 2013.2 During this period, over 128,000 heart attacks and 68,000 deaths due to heart attack occurred. Remarkably, fully onethird of the heart attacks occurred the day after a substantial snowfall. https://www.verywellhealth. com/snow-shoveling-and-heartattacks-4131555. Many more research articles relating to cardiac arrest and shoveling can be found through a quick Google search.
Not only does shoveling snow put an enormous amount of strain on our cardiovascular system, but it also stresses many of our muscles and joints – especially the low back and knees. Over the winter months I see an increase of clients who have suffered a low back injury like a strain, or vertebral disc trauma (herniation). Regardless of age or health, shoveling snow can lead to serious injury or death. Now I know at this point you are thinking “we know this” and “shoveling snow is something we have to do in this province, so what?” I’m just going to tell you not to shovel the snow!
With a failing economy everyone is looking at ways to save money, like doing things themselves. Shoveling snow is not one thing you should base your budget around. If you can, hire a seasonal snow removal company, or pay per service from a neighbour instead. Invest in a snowblower, and if you have a snow blower then go around and help others who do not. If you don’t have any other means and need to shovel, then buy a shovel that does not require lifting – called a sleigh shovel. We only have a few short months of winter – but the effects of shoveling snow can last a lot longer. Please be safe and smart this winter.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-clearing-snow-in-winter-outdoors-6952503/