As a young adult, circumstances led me to try and be a little more active. I tried to take a walk several times a week, but only during well-lit summer afternoons and evenings. Sometimes it was just too hot.
When I married, I moved north nearly to the Canadian border, in January. I had only seen snow a few times in my adult life, and that was but a couple of inches. I had never seen it fall in feet. I shifted from daily walking in the subtropics to riding an ancient exercise bike in the basement so that I could move the 150+ annual inches of snow without keeling over. (Unless one wants to be completely immobilized till spring, shovel one must.)
After the diagnoses of hemochromatosis and early-stage cirrhosis, I did not know if I could continue the snow removal. But I gave it my best, which was slow but effective. When spring finally came, I stopped shoveling and slacked off on the exercycling. Later in the spring, I had a scary new symptom.
In the wee hours of the morning, I would wake up with terrible chest pain and my legs or left leg/left arm would be completely numb. I could not walk on limp limbs; all I could do was sit up or roll over on my right side. Then the pain and numbness would subside. My liver specialist shrugged it off; maybe it was my spleen, he conjectured.
I conjectured that I had nocturnal angina because my scarred liver had constricted the blood flow through it, acting like an icejam on one of our local rivers. I conjectured that my unathletic heart wasn't strong enough to pump blood through the "icejam" of my constricted liver when it was beating so slowly during deep sleep. So I decided to up my game on the exercise bike. If my heart condition didn't kill me before winter, I'd at least be pre-prepared for shoveling season.
After a few weeks, I had no more left-side numbness when I went to bed and no more nocturnal chest pain. I added some pushups and floor exercises to the routine, and when the seasons turned to leaf raking and snow shoveling, I methodically, albeit still slowly, cleared the yard, roof, and the driveway all those months without experiencing any muscle pain or chest pain.
Thus, my original efforts to keep in shape for lake effect snow shoveling led me to self-diagnose and self-treat (note: I consulted other doctors, but that's another story) what seemed like a potentially deadly condition, one that has never recurred with that severity and then only during the period when my worsening asthma had not yet been diagnosed and my exercise program had to cease for a couple of months.
So, I think lake effect snow saved my life. And besides, when I see the results of my snow removal, I feel a sense of pride. It sort of makes me feel like a man—in a good way.