We knew it was coming.

After an unseasonably warm December, we in Eastern Iowa got hit, hard, to ring in the New Year with a boatload (or should I say shovel load--a few of them actually) of snow. Snowblowers are great as long as you have one, know how to use them and it works.

Shoveling, particularly if you live on a corner lot, is not just a pain, it could be deadly. The City of Cedar Rapids recently changed its guidelines, giving residents only 24 hours, rather than 48 to clear snow after a big snowfall. If your social media feed was anything like mine over the weekend, this change has not gone over well.

Avoiding a fine is important, but so is avoiding DEATH

Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) data notes that heart-related diseases were the leading cause of death again in 2020 in Iowa and that certainly falls in line with the dangers of shoveling.

A new study shows how much of a risk it is to clear snow. According to the BBC

A study looking at data from 1990 to 2006 by researchers at the US Nationwide Children's Hospital recorded 1,647 fatalities from cardiac-related injuries associated with shovelling snow.

Cardiologist Barry Franklin says "I believe we lose hundreds of people each year because of this activity,"

What makes it so dangerous?

It uses arm work, which may sound like a good workout but don't risk the chance of getting a heart attack to get "buff". This type of "arm work" is more strenuous, according to Franklin, than "leg work".

In addition, straining to move wet and heavy snow is especially likely to cause a surge in heart rate and blood pressure. Needless to say, those over 55 are more at risk of injuries and health hazards from shoveling snow, regardless of health, and are advised to avoid it as much as possible. Even healthy young people see a noticeable increase in heart rate and blood pressure from shoveling compared to say, walking or running on a treadmill. Add in the single-digit temps and sub-zero wind chills we've been seeing and it's a recipe for danger. Smoking and being overweight don't help.

But what choice do we have?

But again, we have to get rid of that snow when it comes, so if your only option is a shovel, it's advised in the study to take frequent breaks, dress in layers, and don't eat or drink right beforehand. Also, to add insult to injury, do it as early as possible, between 6-10 a.m. is ideal. Too bad Mother Nature isn't always on a schedule.

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