Snow shovelling is a winter chore that many people undertake without realizing the potential health risks associated with it. Surprisingly, heart attacks are not uncommon during or after shovelling snow. In this blog post, we will explore why heart attacks are commonly linked to this seemingly innocuous activity and discuss essential steps to prevent not only cardiac issues but also other common problems like back pain.

Understanding the Risks:

  1. Physical Exertion: Shovelling snow is a physically demanding task that requires significant exertion, especially when dealing with heavy, wet snow. It has been estimated that shovelling results in the heart rates exceeding 75% of the maximum heart rate. The sudden, intense bursts of activity therefore puts strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart attacks.
  2. Cold Weather Effects: Cold weather itself can contribute to an increased risk of heart attacks. The body works harder to maintain core temperature in the cold, and this, combined with the physical exertion of shoveling, can elevate blood pressure and strain the heart.
  3. Risk Factors: Individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions, sedentary lifestyles, or a history of heart problems are at a higher risk. Moreover, those who are not accustomed to regular physical activity may find the sudden demand placed on their bodies during snow shoveling particularly challenging.

Preventive Measures:

  1. Consult with a Physician: Before engaging in strenuous activities like snow shovelling, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are not accustomed to regular exercise. They can provide personalized advice based on your health status.
  2. Warm-up Exercises: Just like any other physical activity, snow shoveling requires a proper warm-up. Gentle stretching and light aerobic exercises can prepare your muscles and cardiovascular system for the task ahead, reducing the risk of injury and strain.
  3. Use Ergonomic Tools: Invest in ergonomic shovels that minimize strain on your back and heart. These tools are designed to reduce the physical effort required and can contribute to a more comfortable shovelling experience. Also, do not feel like you have to fill the scoop each time, but rather take smaller scoop fulls.
  4. Take Regular Breaks: Avoid overexertion by taking breaks during snow shovelling. This allows your heart rate to stabilize and prevents excessive strain on your cardiovascular system. Listen to your body, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.
  5. Stay Hydrated and Dress Appropriately: Dehydration can increase the risk of heart-related issues, so ensure you stay hydrated, even in cold weather. Additionally, dressing in layers helps regulate body temperature and prevents overheating, allowing your heart to work more efficiently.
  6. Know Your Neighbours: You can also consider hiring the teenager down the street or talk nicely to your neighbour who has a snow blower.


While snow shovelling may seem like a routine winter task, it can pose significant health risks, especially concerning heart health. By understanding these risks and implementing preventive measures such as proper warm-up, ergonomic tools, regular breaks, consultation with a physician, and maintaining hydration, you can make snow shoveling a safer activity for your overall well-being. Taking these steps not only prevents heart-related issues but also helps mitigate other common problems like back pain, ensuring a healthier and more enjoyable winter season.


Association between quantity and duration of snowfall and risk of myocardial infarction.

Snow shoveling can be hazardous to your heart.

Cardiovascular diseases, cold exposure and exercise.