WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – This March Nor’easter made up for the lack of snow we’ve seen in western Massachusetts this winter, bringing with it more than 3 feet of snow in some towns and many still digging out. And because this snow is so heavy, health experts say to take your time when shoveling.

Shoveling snow causes thousands of injuries, and 100 deaths each year. And with this Nor’easter pounding parts of western Massachusetts, health experts say pace yourself before breaking out those shovels again. “I stop when I am tired, and then I go back to it! It’s exercise and I like to move,” said Carmen Macchio of Easthampton.

The American Heart Association says shoveling snow can put some people at risk of heart attack, and sudden exertion can strain the heart. One study found that 7 to 8 inches of snowfall were associated with a 16 % higher chance of a person going to the hospital due to a heart attack.
However, there are ways to minimize this risk.

Health experts say to try pushing snow rather than lifting it, but if you do lift it make sure the shovel is only partially filled, and always lift with your legs, not your back.

Experts also suggest the following:

• Avoid shoveling after eating, and do not shovel while smoking

• Make sure to stretch before shoveling

• And do not shovel to the point of exhaustion

In addition to that, know the signs of a heart attack, like chest discomfort, pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach, and shortness of breath. And if you are experiencing these symptoms while shoveling, call 911 immediately.