What’s your most important tool?
Tradies are more likely to take better care of their tools and their work vehicle than they are of their own body and mind!
Did you know that only 30% of the workforce is made up of Tradies? Yet they account for 58% of serious claims for worker’s compensation! Tradies are less likely to proactively seek treatment for aches and pains, instead, they simply accept them as part and parcel of their work!
The most common injuries for blue and white-collar workers are:
- Traumatic joint, ligament and muscle and/or tendon injury
- Wounds, lacerations, amputations, and internal organ damage
- Musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases
Some tradies are actually quite sedentary – operating machinery for long hours. Even those that are active on the job, it is easy to assume that you don’t need to do any more exercise outside of work. Being active at work is beneficial, however planned moderate to high intensity exercise is essential to:
Why is it harder for a Tradie to keep healthy?
The nature of work for Tradies can make it harder to keep healthy. Working long hours and travelling long distances to/or from work sites can interfere with sleep and cut back availability of time to exercise and do meal prep. Healthy food options nearby a worksite can be limited, as too, facilities to heat or prepare meals. Long hours and job insecurity from wet weather and project interruptions can lead to financial distress, burnout, fatigue and detrimentally impact mental health.
The good news is, exercise can help people live healthier, happier and longer lives!
How is exercise good for Tradies?
Some of the many health benefits of exercise include:
- Lower risk of diabetes
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Lower risk of high blood pressure
- Healthier blood vessels
- Weight loss
- Improved testosterone levels as you age
- Lower risk of cancers, including colon or prostate cancer.
Maximising the health benefits of exercise
You don’t need to hit the gym to gain maximum health benefits. Playing footy, doing bodyweight resistance exercises or going for a surf are all great ways of getting those large muscle groups working. It’s the exercise you actually do that will yield the greatest health benefit!
If you have a physically demanding job, exercises focusing on muscle strengthening are recommended. Resistance training (weights) will improve your muscle and bone strength, reducing your risk of injury at work. Focusing more on cardiovascular exercises (like walking, running, riding a bike, rowing) is important if you have a sedentary job. But a mix of cardiovascular exercises and resistance training is the ideal recipe for optimum health!
Make exercise targeted for your needs
To maximise the health benefit of exercise specific to your work, take into account exercises that focus on the muscle groups you use the most, for example:
- If you work as a tradesperson using primarily your upper body (lifting, carrying, using power tools) exercises aimed at upper body strengthening should be considered.
- If you are an office worker who is sitting for most of your day, exercises aimed at your core and legs will be more beneficial.
Matching exercises with the functionality of your movement on the job is fundamental to successfully maintaining good body health at work.
Don’t forget your flexibility exercises!
Flexibility is pivotal for keeping your body in good working order. Doing flexibility exercises helps maintain or increase your range of motion through a joint. Therefore, you can have better growth and performance of your muscles.
Tips on how to get exercising more
The 2020 AusPlay Survey reported the following were barriers for adults not engaging in physical activity or sport:
- Not enough time/too many other commitments
- Poor health or injury
- Increasing age/too old
- Don’t like sport or physical activity
- Too lazy
Do some of these reasons resonate with you? Here are some tips to help overcome these common barriers.
By overcoming these barriers and increasing your exercise levels, even if you start small and work your way up, you’re going to be improving your health and fitness in a large variety of ways.
Credits: Content adapted from ESSA exercise mens health ebook which can be found here.
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Bell Silverthorne is an exercise physiologist, wellness coach and lifestyle medicine practitioner with a passion for every day Australians to be that little bit healthier. Whether it’s sleeping better, exercising more, eating more fruit and veggies each day or doing your best to maintain a good headspace. Bell is a massive advocate of lifestyle medicine – harnessing your everyday lifestyle habits to help prevent, manage or even reverse chronic disease.