Winter in Michigan means snow. Snow means driveways and sidewalks that need clearing. Driveways and sidewalks that need clearing mean shovels and snowblowers. And every year, using shovels and snowblowers results in the death of hundreds of people didn't know they who weren't healthy enough to do the work.

Man shoveling snow close up. Man cleaning snow from sidewalk in front of house.
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The Danger of Shoveling Snow

According to Dr. Barry Franklin, director of cardiac rehabilitation for Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak, "shoveling puts a strain on the heart at the same time that blood vessels are constricting because of the cold air." If a person isn't internally healthy, that could spell disaster.

RELATED: Do You Legally Need to Remove Snow From Your Car in Michigan?

The American Heart Association points out that lots of people aren't prepared for the stress of robust outdoor activities and aren't aware of the potential dangers of being outdoors in cold weather.

Five Reasons to Leave the Snow Removal to Someone Else

 

1) Known Heart Conditions

"Shoveling snow can be likened to reaching peak exercise levels on a stress test," according to cardiogram.com.

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Shoveling snow, especially by people with known heart conditions, can lead to a potentially fatal heart attack.

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2) If You're a Smoker

CBSNews.com reports that "tobacco smoke constricts blood vessels just as cold air does; the combination can be dangerous."

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3) Physically Inactive or Overweight

A recent study determined that the average shovel full of snow weighs roughly 16 pounds. The typical person throws a shovel full of snow once every 5 seconds or so.  Do that for 10 straight minutes, and you've literally lifted a ton.

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That's hard work for anybody, but especially strenuous if you're a person who's not accustomed to that level of physical activity. Overexertion can lead to a heart attack.

4) High Blood Pressure

Other health conditions can make it dangerous to shovel snow as well, including high blood pressure, according to the AARP.

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“Combined with the fact that the exposure to cold air can constrict blood vessels throughout the body, you’re asking your heart to do a lot more work in conditions that are diminishing the heart’s ability to function at its best.” - Dr. Barry Franklin

 

5) Diabetes

For diabetics, shoveling snow can mess with your glucose levels.

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Gant News reports that increased activity (such as shoveling snow) "uses glucose to fuel the muscles during activity and it enhances the effects of insulin. These two conditions combined provide an optimal scenario for the potential of experiencing hypoglycemia."

SEE ALSO: 100 Years Ago: The May That Lansing Got Nearly a Foot of Snow

Be smart, and be safe! If you're not healthy enough to handle snow removal on your own - find someone who is!

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