UBMD cardiologist warns that snow shoveling can be more strenuous than running on a treadmill

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A UBMD cardiologist is warning that snow shoveling could be more strenuous than exercising on a treadmill.

John M. Canty Jr., MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, is recommending that Buffalo residents consider their health before heading out to tackle heavy, wet snow, like the kind that fell Thursday night.

“Snow shoveling is heavy exercise that, for some people, can be more strenuous than exercising on a treadmill,” said Canty in a UB press release. “It’s particularly straining on the heart because it is usually a sudden stress, is performed in the cold and primarily consists of lifting a heavy weight. As a result, blood pressure and heart rate can increase more than other forms of physical activity.”

Heavy, wet snow likely increases the risk.

The risk for any individual suffering a cardiac event is generally low, Canty said, but it is naturally higher in people with prior established cardiac disease, as well as those with risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. The risk factors become more important with age.

““It’s therefore important for everyone (whether or not you have heart disease) to be prudent and, in particular, to pay attention to any new or unusual symptoms that develop while shoveling, such as chest pain or severe shortness of breath,” Canty said. “If these symptoms develop, go inside and call 911, as they may indicate the onset of a heart attack.”

Canty says people should dress warmly, keep hydrated and avoid eating meals before going out to shovel or snowblow.

“Lifting less than the shovel holds to keep the weight down, particularly with wet snow, and tackling the job in small bites is good, general advice for everyone, regardless of their health history,” he said.



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