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Beware: Snow Removal Poses Health Risks

DETROIT (WWJ) If you're contemplating snow removal Thursday afternoon, a local cardiologist warns that you need to make sure ahead of time your heart is up to it.

Beaumont Dr. Barry Franklin has looked at three separate studies the hospital has carried out on shoveling and snowblowing and said shoveling raises the heart rate of even a healthy young man to maximum treadmill capacity.

Blowing snow raises the heart rate significantly as well.

'The people typically at greatest risk are those over 45 or 50 years of age with known or suspected cardiovascular disease, also they also tend to be people who are generally very inactive or sedentary and then once a year with a major snowfall, go out and shovel heavy, wet snow," Franklin said.

So what's the answer? Build up your strength with a healthy lifestyle that includes at least regular walking or biking and light weight sessions to get in decent physical condition so shoveling isn't so taxing.

If that's not an option, think about offering to pay a neighbor for the job, snagging a teen who's home from school or plan ahead by contracting with a snow removal service.

If you absolutely have to do it yourself, take breaks whenever you feel winded, step back in the house every few minutes, take off your gloves and sit down for a small break until you catch your breath -- and always, always lift the snow shovel with your legs and not your back.

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