MARSHFIELD, Mo. – Before you grab that snow shovel to clear your sidewalk or driveway, stop to go over some safety tips, said a University of Missouri Extension natural resource engineering specialist.

“Snow shoveling is not the exercise to use to start getting in shape,” said Bob Schultheis. “Exercise experts say shoveling heavy snow requires as much energy as running nine miles per hour.”

If you are over 45, sedentary, smoke, have high blood pressure, are overweight or have a heart condition, play it safe and get someone else to do the shoveling, he said.

Pay close attention to the cold temperature and how tired you become. Don’t work to the point of exhaustion. Take breaks indoors to warm up.

Stay hydrated. You sweat more than you think while shoveling snow. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before and after shoveling to replenish fluids lost in the process.

Lightweight aluminum shovels work best and surface conditioners such as Teflon, silicon or wax can be used to prevent snow buildup on the shovel surface. Take your time. A typical snow shovel holds lots of snow. Partially fill the shovel rather than heaping it full to reduce strain on muscles and joints.

Bend legs slightly at the knee, letting thigh muscles do most of the pushing and lifting work. This will also reduce strain on the heart and back, he said.

Clothes should be well-fitting and worn in layers, which can be removed as the body becomes warm. Overheating puts strain on the heart. Wearing a scarf over the nose and mouth helps reduce breathing cold air, which also makes the heart work harder.

More information on how to prepare and keep safe in winter weather can be found online at