We have all heard the stories of the guy who goes out to shovel his walk and has a heart attack. We want to give you some tips to help prevent an event like this.
First let's look at just a little basic physiology as temperatures drop your blood will be a little thicker as well, just like oil gets thicker almost like syrup. To counteract this make sure you stay plenty hydrated and consult your doctor to see if it would be appropriate to take an aspirin a day. That is what I do; the aspirin helps to thin your blood.
Make sure to layer your clothes. We want to be warm, but you need to be able to shed clothes as you warm up and as the day warms up. You must have enough warm clothes to protect you from the cold but you need to be able to make adjustments. Also remember that your extremities and your head are particularly vulnerable to the cold. Make sure that you have good insulated gloves and be sure to have thick insulated socks. Sometimes I have found when it is really cold that wearing two pairs of socks with a layer of saran wrap between them helps to keep my feet warm.
Now, when you begin to work take it slow. It is crucial that you not push yourself hard since your body is already stressed from the cold. Take the time to warm up and do some stretching as well. Pulled muscles and ligaments and back injuries are far more common in the winter due to the muscles and supporting tissues being stiff from the cold.
Don't let yourself become a statistic, take time to stretch and warm up properly and monitor your heart. If your heart is beating rapidly, you are overworking and you need to take a break and slow down.