I am going on record today and mandating the manual labor workout. In my opinion, the manual labor workout is a legitimate way to build and maintain muscle, improve cardiovascular and mental health, and produce success you can bask in again and again. How might I be equipped to mandate manual labor as a means of fitness you may ask. I will answer by saying I have been obsessed with fitness all of my life. As a child, I was either running, climbing, riding a skateboard or bike, roller skating, swimming, swinging, or taking classes in gymnastics or ballet. As an adult, I added workout videos and a gym membership to the mix. I was even a Beachbody coach at one point. All in all, given my physical fitness experience, I think I know an effective exercise program when I see it.
As a got older, I realized that my loose ligaments were not my best friend. I ended up with bilateral replaced knees, a screw in my right foot, a spinal fusion, and resectioned AC joints. Given all of this hardware, my days of carefree exercising came to an end. At my least mobile point, cleaning the kitchen counter was all I could manage.
These days, manual labor is my workout. I even bought a mostly finished house to enable my love of manual work. For example, I recently moved dirt and added rocks to divert rainwater from the basement, drilled and installed a dryer vent leading to the outside (not as straightforward as it sounds), and am still in the process of staining the decks. You want to know the best payoff realized from doing manual labor? Viewing the job you completed over and over again. I can get a satisfaction high from viewing jobs I completed for at least one week. Additionally, there is the fat loss, lack of hunger, enjoyable naps, and the bonus of a good night’s sleep. Oh, and it is free to engage in.
For anyone who wants to gauge the ins and outs of manual labor, here are some thoughts before you jump in (after getting the go ahead from your doctor).
- Don’t forget the safety equipment. Proper shoes – I like lace up boots that cover the ankles (tall cowboy boots for snake infested areas), protective clothing, gloves, hearing protection, eye protection, and/or any items that prevent injury and ensure safety.
- Know how. These days YouTube videos can teach you to do almost anything. If you feel afraid of a project and cannot enlist outside help, don’t start the project.
- Proper body posture. Proper body posture is going to ensure your joints, ligament, tendons, and so on remain in their proper place. If something pulls or hurts while working, stop readjust your body, and begin again. If you have a pain that won’t end, stop the activity, rest, and ice the hurting area. If you still have pain the next day, see a doctor.
- If you are working outside, don’t forget sunscreen. Skin cancer is vicious and can completely ruin your ability to workout and live.
- Use the proper tool. I know how tempting it is to use a tool in a way that it different than intended, but don’t do it. Injuries are not a joke and oftentimes, your body is never the same after an injury.
- Let someone know you are engaging in manual labor. You want someone to check in and make sure you are safe and well at many intervals during your workout.
- Stop when you are tired. Brain fog and fatigue lead to injury.
- Hydrate, eat healthy food, and get plenty of rest. Much like power tools, your body will break down without proper care.
- Finally, also fill your days with reading, social interaction, and engaging in activities you enjoy.
All the best!