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Etobicoke man dies after shoveling snow

TORONTO – Toronto police say an Etobicoke man in his 80s died Thursday night after shoveling snow on his driveway.

Emergency crews responded to the 9-1-1 call around 9 p.m. on Ashmore Avenue near Queensway and Royal York.

They arrived to find the elderly man without vital signs and was later pronounced dead.

Police say a family member went to check on him and saw him collapsed on the ground.

“It’s a definitely natural causes from what we’ve determined so far,” said Sgt. Wayne Jackson.

“It appears to be more related to the activity of shoveling the driveway along with the individual’s medical history.”

READ MORE: Slipping on your back, breaking bones or triggering a heart attack: Should you be shoveling the winter snow?

Medical experts say snow shoveling is much like weightlifting in a sense that you can be moving hundreds of pounds of snow over the course of an hour.

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The activity causes your blood pressure and heart rate to climb quickly, putting stress on your heart.

Those most at risk of injury or death are seniors and people with certain medical conditions.

Wrist fractures, lower back and shoulder pain are also common problems when shoveling snow.

How should you safely shovel snow?

The Ontario Chiropractic Association has some tips on how to shovel snow properly.

• Don’t let the snow pile up. Keep your eyes on the weather reports to find out if there will be several days of snow. Frequent shoveling allows you to move smaller amounts of snow at once.
• Pick the right shovel. All shovels are not necessarily the same. Use a lightweight pusher-type of shovel to help protect your back.
• Push, don’t throw. Pushing snow to the side is easier on your muscles. Avoid lifting heavy amounts of snow and sudden twisting movements.
• Bend your knees. Using your knees, legs and arm muscles to do the heavy lifting while keeping your back straight.
• Warm up. Shovelling can be a strenuous activity, so take the time to warm up your muscles with some overall conditioning like walking followed by some stretches.
• Take a break. Listen to your body and stop to take a rest if you feel tired or short of breath. Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain.

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With a file from Carmen Chai