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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Doc says be careful shoveling

  • Another snow storm leaves many with the chore of digging out driveways and clearing sidewalks.
    But depending on your age and your health, cleaning up after winter's wrath might not be the best thing for you to do.
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  • Another snow storm leaves many with the chore of digging out driveways and clearing sidewalks.
    But depending on your age and your health, cleaning up after winter's wrath might not be the best thing for you to do.
    Dr. Lent Johnson, a family care doctor with the Hannibal Clinic, said if you're able to pay for it and/or have someone else get the job done for you, take advantage.
    "What I try to tell people is it kind of depends on what kind of medical problems you. But if you have some risk factors, you have some heart disease — and that would mean if you have hypertension, elevated cholesterol — you need to be cautious. That doesn't mean you can't do it, but if you're a person who doesn't do a lot of personal activity, and all of a sudden you're going to go out and shovel your driveway, which has a bunch of snow in it, you got to think about that," Johnson said. "If you're a person who stays pretty fit, you're doing exercise, then it's probably reasonable."
    The weather alone could also be a factor. A lot of little things that come with being in cold weather can lead to a health issue.
    "When people go outside, first of all it's cold, so that itself puts you under some stress because of your circulation. And you tend to not get as hot. When you're out in the heat of the day and you get really hot, most people will stop and go sit down and go sit in the shade. But when it's cold outside, you're doing all that physical work, you're throwing this light snow, you probably think how much exercise is that, but when you work with your hands and arms, that is very stressful. It is a lot of physical activity and people don't think about that," Johnson said. "It looks like light work, but when you work with your arms like that, it is quite a bit of exertion."
    Like any activity, the doctor says to be aware of how your body is doing throughout the process.
    "If you get very tired, you get hot and it's outside and want to stop, take a rest. It's good to have people who are aware that you're outside that can check on you," Johnson said. "I think the biggest thing is if you get short of breath, you get any tightness in your chest, you should stop immediately and go inside."

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