Our first significant snowfall of the season has finally arrived. There are reports of around 8 inches falling in Steele County. For many it's time to use that snow shovel.

You've heard it before, but it always bears repeating: Be careful when shoveling snow for the sake of your heart. I remember one rule, which is go slow and easy. However, here are a few other tips to protect your heart when shoveling snow courtesy of the National Jewish Health.

Don't shovel right away in the morning. Your blood is more likely to clot early in the morning. I didn't know that. Also, warm up a bit before shoveling. Walk around a bit or move your arms around. It will help get the blood flowing.

Here's one that puts me on alert, don't eat just before you shovel. With food in your stomach the blood will go down there to help with digestion. As a long-time sufferer of heart disease, I can tell you this really makes sense. I wasn't aware I had had a heart attack or heart attacks until a cardiologist told me. Reflecting back, I noticed I was usually gassy or had a bloated full feeling after eating even just a tiny bit. If I tried doing physical labor, I'd have to stop quite often. I've now learned that this can sometimes be a red flag for heart disease. The gassy part made me think it was indigestion.

Use a small shovel and go nice and slow and take frequent breaks. Many small loads are better than taking fewer real heavy ones.

Keep warm and wear a scarf or mask to keep the cold air out of your lungs.

Most important of all is watch for warning signs that you may be having a heart attack. Chest tightness, dizziness and shortness of breath are all signs that you may be having a heart attack. I can recall four distinct episodes where I had that full gassy feeling coupled with shortness of breath a few years ago. Perhaps I've had four heart attacks. It's possible, becaus a part of my heart has permanent damage.

Go nice and slow when shoveling out our first big snowfall.
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Perhaps the best advice of all is to find a young neighbor kid and hire him or her to shovel your drive and walk.

Be careful.