Winter and shovelling go hand in hand so Public Health wants to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too far.

Doctor Piotr Oglaza, the Medical Officer of Health with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, says that while regular physical activity is always encouraged, making sure you aren’t pushing yourself too hard is just as important. Spending a half hour or more shovelling could be a good workout for some, Oglaza says it’s important to not push yourself too much.

If you do, you could run the risk of having a heart attack. While most know chest pain may be a sign you’re having a heart attack, Oglaza says for some it could just mean they pulled a muscle. Regardless, he says that you need to know much much you can handle when it comes to physical activity, especially shovelling. “It all starts with having that discussion with their healthcare provider,” Oglaza says. That’s why he recommends speaking to their doctor to figure out how much is too much when it comes to shovelling snow.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation says the signs of a heart attack are:

  • Chest discomfort
    • Pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness
  • Sweating
  • Upper body discomfort in neck, jaw, shoulder, arms, back
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness

Oglaza stressed that being aware of how much stress you’re putting on your body is important. If you’re shovelling a centimetre or two of soft snow, you probably won’t have any problem. If you end up having to lift heavy, wet snow then that could be too much for some to handle, Oglaza says.

Beyond that, he warns that doing too much while shovelling snow could lead to other health issues such as back problems.

If you do think you’re experiencing a heart attack, you should call 911 immediately.

Written by: Mathew Reisler