Brrrrr It´s Brass Monkeys Out There !
Now that winter has well and truly arrived in many places around the world, some of us will be facing the yearly challenge of battling freezing temperatures, ice and snow.
With Snow piled up against our front doors and covering our paths and pavements it´s normal for some people to be itching to get out there and start shovelling, whilst others will be doing all they can to avoid stepping out into the cold.
Health wise, for those of us not used to hard manual work in freezing conditions and with certain health related conditions such as circulation issues, heart problems , or high blood pressure are at risk if the urge to go out shovelling snow gets the better of us and would be well advised to stay in the cosy comfort of our homes. On the other hand if you are physically fit and dressed appropriately you can have a really good workout without going down to the gym, just make sure you warm up well before hand and warm down when you finish.
For anyone in two minds or being nagged to get out there and get shovelling and need an excuse to stay in the warm, here are 5 really good health reasons to back up your argument.
Top 5 Reasons Not To Shovel Snow
1. Increased Risk Of Heart Attack Or Stroke
During very cold weather our blood thickens and our arteries narrow which causes the heart to work harder in order to keep blood flowing through our body. Your BP will probably rise and this along with the possibility of splits occurring in the plaque that many people have lining their arteries may allow blood clots to form, and this can all contribute to a heart attack or stroke.
Physical exercise or hard manual work in very cold conditions, such as shovelling snow, forces the already hard working heart to pump even faster adding more strain.
If you are in good physical condition, properly dressed for the climate and are used to strenuous exercise or hard manual work you will probably suffer no harm what so ever, in fact you will give yourself a good cardio workout, but if you suffer from heart or circulation problems, have high blood pressure or are not used to physical exertion then think twice before getting that shovel out, you really could be putting yourself at great risk.
2. Increased Risk Of Muscular Injurys
Cold muscles and connective tissue are more prone to painful sprains and strains because cold weather decreases elasticity. Before embarking on any physical exercise including shovelling snow it´s important to practise a thorough warm up first, drink plenty of water whilst working and have a good cool down period incorporating lots of stretching exercises afterwards to help reduce muscle soreness later.
3. Increased risk of Frostbite
Frostbite is caused by reduced blood flow and decreased oxygen because of contracted arteries during prolonged exposure to cold. Ice crystals can also form in skin tissue and effectively block off the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the affected area and kill the skin
Extremities are most commonly affected, fingers, toes, nose,and ears. Prolonged exposure to cold which would lead to stage 3 or advanced frostbite can also damage tendons, muscles, nerves and even bone.
4. Increased risk of Hypothermia
Although it´s quite possible that you will work up a sweat shovelling all that snow, this is not a good thing in very cold weather as sweating will lower your core body temperature allowing hypothermia to take a hold.
The average core body temperature of most people is around 37C, you only need to cool down a couple of degrees to below 35C in order to experience the onset of hypothermia.
Left untreated, victims will fall into a coma and may die if medical attention is not given immediately.
For those convinced that a regular nip of Brandy or Whisky will not only make the chore of snow shovelling more enjoyable and help to keep out the cold, sorry to disillusion you and spoil the fun, but it could actually make you more susceptible to hypothermia as alcohol diverts blood away from the major organs and sends it to the surface of the skin instead,tricking you into feeling warm and inducing a rosy glow, whilst all the time stealing heat from inside your body and putting you at a much higher risk.
5. Increased risk of Broken Bones
This is a no brainer really, we all know how treacherous conditions under foot become when snow and ice are covering every surface outside, but if you are scraping the barrel in order not to be forced into snow clearing, it has to be worth a shot to use this one as an excuse for staying in the cosy warmth of your house until a thaw sets in and the snow disappears for good or some good Samaritan comes and clears your path for you.
If you suffer from Asthma , high blood pressure , heart or circulation problems , ask yourself " is clearing your path really worth risking your health ?"
If all fails and you really do have to go out and shovel snow at least follow these guidelines to keep you safe and well.
Dress in lots of light insulating layers that will trap your body heat and help to keep it where it´s needed.
Wear a windproof jacket or coat, waterproof boots with good grip , gloves or mittens and a hat.
Have a good warm up session before putting those muscles to work and a good cool down session with lots of sustained stretching exercise afterwards.
Keep hydrated and take regular breaks, and if you feel tired or unwell stop what you are doing and go straight back into the warmth. Contact a medical proffesional if symptoms persist.
Happy shovelling to one and all :)
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