Dr. Charles Davidson, clinical chief of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and medical director at Northwestern's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, said before snow shoveling eat a small meal to provide a source of energy.
However, digestion puts strain on the heart, so eating a large meal before any physical activity should be avoided. Additionally, alcohol and caffeine should also be avoided just prior to shoveling, Davidson said.
The body needs hydration, even in cold weather. When shoveling snow, take frequent breaks and drink water regularly to prevent dehydration, Davidson advised.
"Don't pick up too much: Large loads of snow can be heavy and place strain on the heart, back and neck," Davidson said in a statement. "Push, instead of lift, and use a small shovel, which encourages smaller loads of snow."
Cold temperatures reduce circulation to the body's extremities so wear weather-appropriate, layered clothing and gloves to maintain body temperature and circulation, Davidson said.