Potential Health Hazards of Shoveling Snow

Of winter’s many wonders, one of the activities that many people may not look forward to is shoveling snow from their driveway, patio, porch, and sidewalks. Shoveling snow is an important task for a number of reasons starting with gaining access to your vehicle, creating a safe path for you and your family to walk, and restoring the use of outdoor sites around your home.

While the need for shoveling snow is apparent, there are also potential health dangers that come from this type of exertion in cold temperatures that you may not be fully aware. While protecting yourself from the cold is important there are other factors that play a role as well in making this a potentially dangerous activity.


To breathe in cold air while exerting yourself shoveling snow over a long period of time works against the health of your body. In addition, the wet snow will get into your shoes and socks unless you are wearing galoshes or waterproof footwear which can cause irritation and even frostbite if exposed for too long.


One the biggest dangers is slipping on the snow, slush, or ice which can cause considerable injury. While most people may simply bruise the area of impact, there are many people who break bones or experience other types of serious injury because of a fall. This usually happens when you overextend and lose your footing. It is best to shovel in short strokes and keep your feet underneath you to minimize the chances of slipping.


It can be easy to over-exert yourself which results in sore muscles, stretched tendons and ligaments, and other injuries that will take some time to recover. While overexertion itself is usually not cause for much alarm as the resulting soreness will fade in a couple of days, it may mask a more serious condition that might have developed when shoveling snow that takes longer to diagnose.

Heart Issues

For seniors and those who have suffered from heart conditions, shoveling snow is generally not an activity that you should be doing unless you talk to your physician first. This is because the strain on the heart is considerably more when using your muscles in the cold. It can be worse for those who are not in good physical condition as the stress from shoveling in the snow may not be fully apparent because of the cold which may lead to a heart attack.

How to Shovel Snow Properly

If you have to shovel snow yourself and you have a large driveway or extensive area to clear off, it’s generally best to invest in snow thrower which will clean the snow away in a fraction of the time with fairly little exertion.

If the property you own is too small to justify purchasing a snow thrower, then it is best if you do the job in manageable sections such as staying out for no more than ten to fifteen minutes before taking a break inside.

By keeping snow shoveling in its proper perspective starting with dressing appropriately, wearing waterproof footwear, using the right type of snow shovel, and taking breaks every ten to fifteen minutes or when you feel a bit tired you may avoid many of the inherent dangers of snow shoveling.