Health News

Health News

Health News

Snow shoveling is part of almost every snow contract. Whether it is shoveling steps, keeping the entrance of a doorway free of snow and ice buildup or when clearing a tight area too small for the plow to reach, ensuring your safety is #1 priority. Below are seven tips for Safe Snow Shoveling to keep in mind. 
 

  1. 1. Snow removal often happens in the dark of night. Night traffic doesn’t stop for snow removal crews. In order to ensure safety, consider adding a safety reflector on your shovel. The Masi Polar Plus snow pusher shovel, has a reflective strip near the handle of the shovel for increased visibility. Safety vests or jackets are another way to increase visibility and ensure safety. Plan for the Personal Protective Equipment you will need this winter.
     
  2. 2. Long hours spent doing snow removal can take a toll on your body. Proper ergonomics when shoveling can help prevent an injury. Proper ergonomics of shoveling suggest staying on top of the snow. Don’t let too much snow build up before trying to shovel. The sooner you can get out there and shovel the better. Clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to build up or stop before you haul your shovels outside. The Finnish quality handle  of the Snow Plow Snow Pusher was also designed for a comfortable and ergonomically correct position when shoveling snow. Designed to fit bulky, gloved hands to keep you warm and safe , The Mais Polar plus snow pusher shovel will keep you comfortable and powerful to push through the snow. 

www.ultimatesnowshovel.com

 

 

The Masi Polar plus Snow shovel is the best shovel on the planet! I get over 300" of snow per year at my house! I may not even fix my snowblower! I love love love this shovel!!!

 

 

Protect your heart when shoveling snow

Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

After shoveling the heavy, 18-inch layer of snow that fell overnight on my sidewalk and driveway, my back hurt, my left shoulder ached, and I was tired. Was my body warning me I was having a heart attack, or were these just the aftermath of a morning spent toiling with a shovel? Now that I’m of an AARP age, it’s a question I shouldn’t ignore.

Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks. Emergency rooms in the snowbelt gear up for extra cases when enough of the white stuff has fallen to force folks out of their homes armed with shovels or snow blowers.

What’s the connection? Many people who shovel snow rarely exercise. Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing nothing physical for several months, can put a big strain on the heart. Pushing a heavy snow blower can do the same thing. Cold weather is another contributor because it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart, and make blood more likely to form clots.

When a clot forms inside a coronary artery (a vessel that nourishes the heart), it can completely block blood flow to part of the heart. Cut off from their supply of life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients, heart muscle cells begin to shut down, and then die. This is what doctors call a myocardial infarction or acute coronary syndrome. The rest of us call it a heart attack.

The so-called classic signs of a heart attack are a squeezing pain in the chest, shortness of breath, pain that radiates up to the left shoulder and down the left arm, or a cold sweat. Other signs that are equally common include jaw pain, lower back pain, unexplained fatigue or nausea, and anxiety.

I figured I was tired because I had been shoveling for three hours, my left shoulder hurt because of the way I was tossing snow, and my back hurt from all the bending and lifting. I felt confident about my self-diagnosis, but would have changed it in an instant if something else started bugging me. (Click here to read “Chest pain: A heart attack or something else?” from the May 2010 Harvard Heart Letter.)

If you need to clear away snow, keep in mind that this activity can be more strenuous than exercising full throttle on a treadmill. That’s no problem if you are healthy and fit. But it can be dangerous if you aren’t. As I mentioned in the December 2010 issue of the Heart Letter, a study from the University of Virginia Medical Center suggests that anyone who has received an artery-opening stent in the preceding year or so might want to be especially careful about clearing snow.

Here are some tips for safe shoveling:

  • Warm up your muscles before starting.
  • Shovel many light loads instead of fewer heavy ones.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t feel that you need to clear every speck of snow from your property.
  • Head indoors right away if your chest starts hurting, you feel lightheaded or short of breath, your heart starts racing, or some other physical change makes you nervous. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency number.

If you are out of shape or worried about your heart, hire a teenage neighbor. He or she could use the money, and probably the exercise.

Masi Polar Plus Ergonomic Sdjustable snow pusher shovel, no lifting safe on the back, made in Finland

 

 

 

 

 

11 year old  boy uses the Masi Polar Plus ergonomic snow pusher shovel as a fast sled : good exercise and fun!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAG8mc0LpFo

 

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling
Having recognized that snow shoveling can injure your back, now lets look at tips to help you avoid such problems.

 

  • Tip # 1.
    If you experience pain of any kind, stop immediately and seek assistance.
     
  • Tip # 2.
    Choose a snow shovel that is right for you!!
    • Be sure that your shovel has a curved handle, as this enables you to keep your back straighter when shoveling.
    • Obtain a shovel with an appropriate length handle. The length is correct when you can slightly bend your knees, flex your back 10 degrees or less, and hold the shovel comfortably in your hands at the start of the "shoveling stroke".
    • A plastic shovel blade will generally be lighter than a metal one, thus putting less strain on your spine.
    • Sometimes, a smaller blade is better than a larger blade. Although a small blade can't shovel as much, it avoids the risk of trying to pick up a too heavy pile of snow with a larger blade.
       
  • Tip # 3.
    Push the snow, do not lift it. Pushing puts far less strain on the spine than lifting.
     
  • Tip # 4.
    Be sure your muscles are warm before you start shoveling. Cold, tight muscles are more likely to sprain or strain than warm, relaxed muscles.
     
  • Tip # 5.
    When you grip the shovel, make sure your hands are at least 12 inches apart. By creating distance between your hands, you increase your leverage and reduce the strain on your body.
     
  • Tip # 6.
    Your shoveling technique is very important. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends: "If you must lift the snow, lift it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovel of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once; do it piecemeal. Shovel and inch or two; then take another inch off. Rest and repeat if necessary." In addition to these comments, remember to move your feet rather than twisting.
     
  • Tip # 7.
    Never throw snow over your shoulder.
     
  • Tip # 8.
    Remember that wet snow can be very heavy. One full shovel load can weigh as much as 25 pounds.
     
  • Tip # 9.
    Pace yourself by taking frequent breaks to gently stretch your back, arms and legs.
     
  • Tip #10.
    Consider buying a snow-blower. When used correctly, a snow-blower will put far less strain on your back than snow shoveling. 

Safe Snow Shoveling

1/3/2015

 

 
    Now is the time.  The weather has gone from warm to crisp to cold.  Snow is covering your driveway and sidewalks.  If your body is not in condition, snow shoveling can lead to injury.
    Bending and twisting when tossing a shovel of heavy snow can aggravate lower back problems.  In addition, the overall physical exertion required for snow shoveling, without proper conditioning, often results in painful injuries.  And lets be honest who does conditioning for snow shoveling.  We don’t practice it until the snow falls.
    Here are some tips that you should follow in order to stay injury free this shoveling season:
  • Exercise all year round.  You may not be ready for shoveling exactly, but a well conditioned body responds better to any stress it faces.
  • Plan extra time to get anywhere, whether it be work or shopping or anything else count on some shoveling/scraping time.  If you don’t need it then you’ll be a little early, and that never hurts, but rushing the job can hurt or lead to injury.
  • Don’t shovel in your Pajamas, wear appropriate clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.  Working in the cold can increase the risk of sprains or strains.
  • Stretch out. Shoveling is exercise too!  A good warm up before hand may be the difference between some sore muscles or a trip to the doctor.
  • Use a lightweight, ergonomically designed shovel to reduce back strain.  You’ll still get it done with a smaller shovel and with a lighter load each time you reduce the risk of injury.
  • Push the snow don’t throw it; walk it to the snow bank.  Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions, especially while lifting a load so far from your center. Snow pushers from Finland are excellent snow tools since you push the snow and not lift which is harder on your back. Masi makes the Masi Polar Ergonomic adjustable snow pusher s which has become very popular  in the US market/
  • Bend your knees to lift when shoveling.  Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • Take frequent breaks.  A fatigued body is asking for an injury.
  • Feeling sore after shoveling is normal.  I know you’ve been in the snow all morning, but try putting an icepack on the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours.
  •  

 

 

Be Heart Smart-Diabetes Forecast

With cold fronts come heart worries: Heart attacks are more frequent in winter. And the most dangerous winter exercise is a common 

one—shoveling. The cold weather sets the stage; with the increased blood pressure and higher heart rate that come from exercising

 in the cold, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. The motion itself—bending forward and lifting 10 to 20 pounds of snow on

 a shovel—puts additional strain on the heart. “Snow shoveling is an excellent workout,” says Calabrese, “but more people have 

heart attacks doing that than any other activity because they’re not conditioned for that heavy lifting of wet snow.”

 A 3X - 4X Reduction In Lower Back stress And Cardio Exertion!!

 

With the Masi Polar Plus Snow Pusher Shovel, there is no lifting so there is no back strain or injury and is safer for the heart.

 

Pick the Right Snow Shovel

An ergonomic snow shovel can help take some of the effort out of snow removal chores.

Warm Up Thoroughly

Cold, tight muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles. Do your back a favor by warming up for five to ten minutes before shoveling or any strenuous activity.

    • A shovel with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length will minimize painful bending, requiring you to bend your knees only slightly and arch your back very slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground.
    • A small, lightweight, plastic blade helps reduce the amount of weight that you are moving.
    • Get your blood moving with a brisk walk, marching in place, or another full-body activity.
    • Then, stretch your low back and hamstrings (the large muscles in the back of the thigh) with some gentle stretching exercises.
    • Limber up your arms and shoulders with a body hug that you hold for 30 - 60 seconds.

The new Masi Polar Plus snow pusher is ergonomic. adjustable , light and efficient.

 

Careful out there! Snow shoveling involved in more than 10,000 U.S. hospital visits annually


Ema

Man shoveling snowThe winter of 2010–2011 has been a good one for sledding and snowball fights, as snowstorms have dusted the U.S. from Georgia to New England to the Pacific Northwest. And Tuesday is no exception, with snowstorms forecast for much of the northern U.S.

But good news for snow lovers is not always good news for homeowners. Shoveling the sidewalk, the front steps or the driveway can be a labor-intensive hassle, and, as a new study shows, it also lands a fair number of shovelers—albeit a very small fraction of the population—in the emergency room each year.

In a 17-year study collecting data from hospitals across the country, a group of researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the Ohio State University College of Medicine found that approximately 11,500 individuals per year in the U.S. were treated for injuries related to shoveling snow between 1990 and 2006. (The data from a representative sample of 100 hospitals were extrapolated to nationwide estimates.) The research appeared in the January issue of The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

More than half of the injuries were from musculoskeletal exertion, and an additional 20 percent resulted from slips or falls. More than a third of the shoveling mishaps were lower-back injuries. Most injuries were relatively minor: more than 90 percent of admitted patients left without being hospitalized. But a small fraction did not fare so well—the researchers estimate that cardiac demands from snow shoveling result in some 97 deaths a year. (In the sample, all of the recorded deaths were cardiac-related.)

A five-figure tally of emergency-room visits each year from shoveling snow may sound like a lot, but it accounts for a mere 0.004 percent of the population. That is less than half the annual ER influx from sledding injuries and about one ninth the injury burden of skiing and snowboarding combined.

 

 In Finland, where snowjob is an annual "pastime", there are shovels with proper handles (not the T-bar handles mostly seen in US), ergonomic and light snow scoops such as the Masi Polar Plus.. A company called Motoseal makes them. Now, I am not telling how one should do their (snow)job, but I am just pointing out a fact. For a comparison, in Finland most injuries related to snow come from that people fall down from the roofs or get buried under the snow that falls down from the roof.

But with really big snow – and even everyday, run-of-the-mill snow – comes a risk of death by shoveling. According to CBS News in Chicago, by early February 2015, around 18 people in the Chicago area had died in snow shoveling-related incidents. They ranged in age from their 40s to 75. Nationwide, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year.

So, why so many deaths? Shoveling snow is just another household chore, right?

Not at all, says Harvard Health Executive Editor Patrick J. Skerrett.

"Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing nothing physical for several months, can put a big strain on the heart," Skerrett wrote in February 2013.

Pushing a heavy snow blower also can cause injury. And, there's the cold factor. Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply. This is true even in healthy people. Individuals over the age of 40 or who are relatively inactive should be particularly careful.

National Safety Council recommends the following tips to shovel safely.

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
  • Take it slow and stretch out before you begin
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it's lighter
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it
  • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion

 

Don't pick up that shovel without a doctor's permission if you have a history of heart disease. If you feel tightness in the chest or dizziness, stop immediately. A clear driveway is not worth your life.

The snow pusher - if you envision what a moldboard looks like on a plow - this is a much smaller version of that. It's made out of plastic and it's got a handle that is attached to this plastic in the back. It's designed so that you don't have a bottom plate to it. So you can't actually pick up snow. What it forces you to do is to push the snow off to the side. Much, much easier on your back and certainly much easier on your heart. The Snow pusher was developed  in  Finland and is widely used throughout the Nordic Countries. 

 

Your Back Will Thank You

 

But first and foremost, these ergonomic snow shovels are about ease of use -- and avoiding back injuries. No steel core shaft here: this ergonomic snow shovel has an aluminum shaft, making it as light as possible. Reducing the weight of a snow shovel is one way to minimize the stress shoveling imposes on your back.

More importantly, the bent shaft is supposed to allow you to keep your back straight while shoveling, as you can get a good grip on the shaft without having to reach down too far. Nonetheless, when shopping for such ergonomic snow shovels, pick them up first and go through the motions of shoveling, to see if they're the right length for you. The one I tested wasn't quite long enough for someone of my height, meaning the temptation to bend my back was still there -- thus defeating the purpose behind the ergonomic design. The Masi polar plus ergonomic snow pusher has been tested throughout the Nordic countries.

We have recently interviewd some of the Masi Polar plus snow pusher customers and these are the main  requirements of the tool that they wanted  wanted and needed.

 

  • The tool needed to be wide, light, durable, and easy to use. The tool also needed to be constucted of a material that snow would not stick to as well as include a metal edge to reduce wear.
  • The handle needed to be long enough, comfortable to grip and have an loop on the end for storing.
  • The blade needed to be lightweight and curved slightly to prevent snow from spilling over the top.
  • The curvature of the blade needed to allow snow to accumulate in front of the tool without accumulating on the blade itself. Similar to a truck-mounted snow plow.

These are all of the attributes for the Masi polar plus ergonomic Snow pusher Shovel.

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling
Having recognized that snow shoveling can injure your back, now lets look at tips to help you avoid such problems.

 

  • Tip # 1.
    If you experience pain of any kind, stop immediately and seek assistance.
     
  • Tip # 2.
    Choose a snow shovel that is right for you!
    • Be sure that your shovel has a curved handle, as this enables you to keep your back straighter when shoveling.
    • Obtain a shovel with an appropriate length handle. The length is correct when you can slightly bend your knees, flex your back 10 degrees or less, and hold the shovel comfortably in your hands at the start of the "shoveling stroke".
    • A plastic shovel blade will generally be lighter than a metal one, thus putting less strain on your spine.
    • Sometimes, a smaller blade is better than a larger blade. Although a small blade can't shovel as much, it avoids the risk of trying to pick up a too heavy pile of snow with a larger blade.
       
  • Tip # 3.
    Push the snow, do not lift it. Pushing puts far less strain on the spine than lifting.
     
  • Tip # 4.
    Be sure your muscles are warm before you start shoveling. Cold, tight muscles are more likely to sprain or strain than warm, relaxed muscles.
     
  • Tip # 5.
    When you grip the shovel, make sure your hands are at least 12 inches apart. By creating distance between your hands, you increase your leverage and reduce the strain on your body.
     
  • Tip # 6.
    Your shoveling technique is very important. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends: "If you must lift the snow, lift it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovel of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once; do it piecemeal. Shovel and inch or two; then take another inch off. Rest and repeat if necessary." In addition to these comments, remember to move your feet rather than twisting.
     
  • Tip # 7.
    Never throw snow over your shoulder.
     
  • Tip # 8.
    Remember that wet snow can be very heavy. One full shovel load can weigh as much as 25 pounds.
     
  • Tip # 9.
    Pace yourself by taking frequent breaks to gently stretch your back, arms and legs.
     
  • Tip #10.
    Consider buying a snow-blower. When used correctly, a snow-blower will put far less strain on your back than snow shoveling.

By following these tips, you are far less likely to be injured while shoveling snow.

Tips for Safer Shoveling:

  • If you are inactive and have a history of heart trouble, talk to your doctor before you take on the task of shoveling snow.
     
  • Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning. These are stimulants, which may increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict. This places extra stress on the heart.
     
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is just as big an issue in cold winter months as it is in the summer.
     
  • Dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as needed.
     
  • Warm up your muscles before shoveling, by walking for a few minutes or marching in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs, because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.
     
  • Pick the right shovel for you. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body.
     
  • Lift with your legs not your back. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that the lifting comes from your leg muscles, not your back. Never bend at the waist. Step in the direction that you are throwing snow. This will help prevent the lower back from twisting and will help alleviate any back soreness that you might typically experience the day after a hard shoveling job.
     
  • Create some distance between the hands. This will give you more leverage and make it easier to lift snow.
     
  • Pick-up smaller loads of snow. It's best to shovel by sections. If you are experiencing snowfall levels of 12-inches or higher, take it easy and shovel 2-inches off at a time.
     
  • Do push. Don't lift. Save your back and your energy by simply pushing the snow to the side instead of lifting the snow and throwing it off to the side.
     
  • Listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain or observe heart attack warning signs. These may include chest pain as well as shoulder, neck or arm pain; dizziness, fainting, sweating or nausea; or shortness of breath. If you think you're having a heart attack, seek medical help immediately. 

With the Masi Polar Plus ergonomic snow pusher shovel, you push the snow which is safer for the back since there is no back strain.

 

Don’t Let Snow Shoveling Be A Pain In The Back

The Dos and Don’ts of Safe Shoveling

Advice to keep your back safe while shoveling this winter

Love it or hate it, snow shoveling might as well be one of the official sports of Canada. However, shoveling is no easy task. If done incorrectly, shoveling can easily lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain.

Follow these simple dos and don’ts of shoveling this winter to save yourself from any unnecessary pain!

Do pick the right shovel for you.

We’re all different sizes, so why would we all use the same shovel? To find the right shovel for you, look for an ergonomic shovel with an adjustable handle. When adjusted properly, your shovel should touch the ground with only a slight bend in your knees and very minimal bending in your back.

Don’t bend or rotate your back.

When bending to shovel or pick up a load, bend at your knees and keep your back as straight as possible. This will help prevent unnecessary strain on your back and ease the task of shoveling. Our backs are also more likely to become injured when we’re rotated. Avoid this position by trying to always face the same direction as what you’re shoveling or where you’re putting it down.

Do warm up before heading outside.

Cold muscles and tissues are more likely to get hurt during activity. Before heading outside to shovel, do a quick warm up to get your blood flowing. This could include brisk walking, marching in place, and stretches.

Don’t push through the pain.

If you’re feeling pain while shoveling, it’s time to stop. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something’s not right and that it’s time to take a break. Avoid pain by keeping the loads light and following the advice above!

Do pace yourself.

Take a break every 10 to 15 minutes, or whenever you’re feeling tired or exhausted. Head inside to warm up, straighten your back, and walk around for a bit to keep your back happy and healthy.

Man shoveling snow

Don’t toss the snow.

If you are having to lift snow out of the way or onto a snowbank, try to avoid tossing it. Instead, walk over to where you’d like to put the snow and drop it off. What may take a few more seconds for every load could very well save you a lot of misery in the future!

Do push the snow.

Whenever possible, try simply pushing the snow to the side of what you’re clearing rather than lifting and throwing. Pushing the snow is a lot easier on our backs and could save you a lot of pain!

Try to keep all this advice in mind the next time you head out to shovel and keep your back safe!

With the Masi Polar Plus adjustable  snow pusher shovel, you push the snow which is safer for the back since there is no back strain.

 

 

Snow Remove Safety Tips

To help make snow removal safer, follow these tips for safer snow removal.

  • Consult a doctor: If you have a medical condition, don’t exercise on a regular basis or are middle aged or older, meet with your doctor before exercising in cold weather.
  • Dress appropriately: Light, layered, clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It’s important to keep your head warm and wear mittens or gloves and thick, warm socks. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles.
  • Start early: Try to clear snow early and often. Begin removing snow when it begins to cover the ground to avoid dealing with packed, heavy snow.
  • Pace Yourself: Snow removal is an aerobic activity. Take frequent breaks and prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, stop the activity and seek emergency care by calling 911.
  • Proper equipment: Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage. Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure acutely during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times, than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.
  • Proper lifting: Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Avoid bending at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once. Do it in pieces.
  • Safe technique: Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal prior to or soon after shoveling: Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
  • Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 911
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling: Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.
  • Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia: Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of your body’s heat can be lost through your head.
  • Learn CPR: Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Hands-only CPR makes it easier than ever to save a life. If an adult suddenly collapses, call 911 and begin pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest until help arrives. 

 

Consumer Reports

Even people with a snow blower need to shovel sometimes, and our snow blower testers have plenty of advice on which snow shovels work best. When shopping, keep in mind that lighter weight means easier lifting, a rigid shovel is best (in the store, push a corner of the shovel into the floor to test for flexing), and a cheap shovel won’t be great. You’ll probably need to spend $30 or $35. Beyond that:

The handle: “Ergonomic” may not mean easy. Bent handles can make the pushing angle hard to adjust, and twisting the shovel to toss snow aside can be difficult. A shorter handle makes snow-throwing easier; longer is better for pushing—you can better tweak the shovel’s angle and use your weight. A wood handle is handsome but heavy, metal is cold, and plastic or fiberglass is often just right.

The grip: D-shaped. Be sure it fits your hands, especially if they’re unusually small or big. A padded grip is nice, as is an extra grip lower on the handle.

The scoop: Sturdy. Metal is generally more rigid than plastic but heavier. Steel on the leading edge can extend a shovel’s life and make it more effective in hard-packed snow, though the edge may scratch a delicate surface such as decking. A scoop about 24 inches across is good for a few inches of light snow; narrower is better when snow is deep or wet and heavy. A deeply curved scoop can clear a lot of snow; a shallow scoop is OK for pushing snow but spills when lifted. High scoop sides contain snow and can reduce flexing.

Bottom line. Look at our lineup below, and consider buying more than one shovel depending on anticipated need—one for lifting, another for pushing, for example, or one for dealing with regular snow and another for an icy plow pile at the end of your driveway.

 

If you have a daily coffee habit, here's something to buzz about: A new study finds those cups of joe may help boost longevity.

"In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn't drink coffee," says one of the study authors, nutrition researcher Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. Decaf drinkers also saw benefits.

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The findings, published in the journal Circulation, build on a body of evidence linking a coffee habit to potential health benefits.

As we've reported, previous research has pointed to a decreased risk of stroke. And, there's some evidence that a coffee habit cuts the risk of Type 2 diabetes, too.

Now, of course, it's possible to overdo it with caffeine. Research has shown that consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine can interfere with sleep and create feelings of unease. And some of us are even more sensitive. (I feel jittery if I have more than one strong cup!)

One study found that 200 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee) is an optimal amount to enhance cognitive function and mood among sleep-deprived people. But we don't all metabolize caffeine the same way.

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As we've reported, the caffeine amounts in coffee vary wildly. One analysis, conducted by Bruce Goldberger, found a 16-ounce cup of caffeinated coffee from Starbucks could contain anywhere from 250 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine.

"Not everyone reacts to coffee in the same way," says Andrew Maynard, who studies risk assessment at Arizona State University. He summarizes the benefits documented in this study as "small."

He says this study does not prove cause and effect between drinking coffee and living longer. Rather, it points to an association. "There are a lot of unknowns as to what [may explain] the increase in life expectancy," Maynard says.

Got more questions? So did we. Here's our conversation about the findings with study co-author Walter Willett, edited for length and clarity.

So, what do you think might explain this association? In the study, you point to compounds in coffee — such as lignans, quinides and magnesium — that may help reduce insulin resistance and inflammation. Prior studies have pointed to these as well.

We're not sure exactly how coffee is [linked] to all these benefits. The coffee bean itself is loaded with many different nutrients and phytochemicals. And my guess is that they're working together to have some of these benefits.

We [see] similar benefits from caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. That's important, because it suggests that caffeine is not responsible for [the benefit].

So this may be welcome news to people who drink decaf?

Yes, because too much [caffeinated] coffee can cause insomnia and loss of sleep, and that's not a good thing!

The reduced risk of death was not seen among the coffee drinkers in your study who were smokers or former smokers.

Definitely. It's extremely important to disentangle the effects of coffee from the effects of cigarette smoking.

So, what's the take-home here? Is it that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle?

I think if people like coffee, it's fine to include it [as part of your daily habit]. So, certainly, [people] should not feel guilty about moderate coffee consumption. It definitely can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

 

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Question: What Is the Best Way to Remove Snow From Driveways?

What is the best way to remove snow from a driveway? There's certainly still a place for good old-fashioned snow shovels, even in today's hi-tech world. By following a few easy shovelling tips, you should be able to remove snow from driveways safely, comfortably and efficiently:

Answer:

Safety. Comfort. Efficiency. Those are the watchwords to keep in mind when you have to remove snow from a driveway.

Below I deal with each, briefly; for a more detailed treatment, consult my full article on snow shovelling.

To remove snow safely, begin by stretching your muscles inside, first. Once you begin to remove snow, use your legs and maintain a good posture to keep from putting undue strain on your back.

For comfort, apply multiple layers of clothing when dressing, and keep your extremities protected from the cold. Once you begin to remove snow, though, you'll probably find yourself working up a good sweat, so be prepared to peel off one layer.

Efficiency takes a number of forms when shovelling snow. The first trick is implemented while you're still in the house: Wax the blade of your shovel so that, when you remove snow from the driveway and attempt to fling it into a pile (on the lawn, for example), the snow won't stick to the blade.

 

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