The exertion of shoveling snow by hand really does increase the risk of a heart attack -- especially if you are a middle-aged man with a family history of heart disease. A 2011 study of emergency room heart patients in Ontario, Canada found that seven percent of the patients had been shoveling snow when they first experienced the symptoms that put them in the hospital.
Add to this the number of shoveling-related back injuries and it's a good argument to invest in a snowblower or hire a snow removal service.
If you must shovel by hand, at least follow these tips:
Prepare before you start. Drink fluids so you're fully hydrated. Warm up your major muscle groups by stretching.
Get rest and get help. Take frequent breaks, especially if the snow is wet and heavy. Go inside and have some hot chocolate. If you have older kids in the house, why aren't they helping?
Use an ergonomic shovel. This lets you push rather than lift snow out of the way.
Put physics to work. Leverage the shovel close to your upper body with one hand near the blade.
Try to keep your back straight. Use the major muscles in your legs and shoulders for lifting.