If they had a choice between sitting at a computer for eight hours in a standard 9-5 office job, or being out on the site, most tradesmen would be very confident in their answer. The camaraderie, the banter, regular sunlight and the physical exertion: all of this contributes to a healthy working environment that most tradesmen wouldn’t change for the world. But to prove it’s not all anecdotal and subjective, we thought we’d take a closer look at the science and logic that supports the reality of these health benefits.
1. It increases daily energy expenditure
Many tradesmen spend much of their day performing moderate to heavy manual work, giving them the opportunity to be physically fit and healthy, as long as they maintain good habits away from work. Being on site all day causes their TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) to end up very high, allowing tradesmen to burn lots of calories in the process — great for keeping that beer belly away. TDEE includes general movement and bodily function, which can be in the form of steps, lifting and even standing.
The benefits of standing are often an overlooked aspect of physical health, with excessive sitting shown to be hazardous. We weren’t designed to sit at desks for eight hours a day, and the body is a machine that requires motion to function. Research highlights that sitting is the new smoking considering it’s also a silent, passive danger that affects a large portion of the population. Tradesmen don’t need to worry about this too much, however, since they are in the field, on their feet, doing stuff. It really is a blessing.
2. Physical strength
Construction involves heavy lifting and using powerful exertion, making it a form of exercise, primarily using the anaerobic energy system. As such, tradesmen usually have more physical strength compared to the average office worker. While starting out as a tradesman is a tough challenge, over time you get used to the demands and reap the benefits of being stronger at work. For those who persevere, the rewards tend to be large and long-lasting, including increased muscle mass (gotta love the gains), decreased fat and a clear, lasting cardiovascular system.
It should also be noted that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are prevalent in the construction industry, thus real care should be taken prior to each day before starting work. Regular stretching and adequate consumption of proteins are necessary to prevent injury and ensure the body can sustain a full work day. Though, if you or a member of staff do get injured, it’s essential that you have personal accident insurance in place to cover things like retraining, recruitment, and medical expenses. You’ll also want short term income protection to guarantee you or your employee’s income during this period. Oh, and don’t forget that employer’s liability insurance is a legal requirement if you operate with a crew.
3. Improves mental health
As we’ve established, tradesmen spend the majority of their day active and on their feet, which naturally boosts mental health, whether it’s reducing anxiety, depression or bad moods. Exercise does this through the release of mood enhancing endorphins, increasing serotonin and regulating sleep patterns. What’s more, a tradesman’s life is usually a stress-free one. This study compared the stress associated with different occupations and found skilled tradesmen to be the least stressed, with only 600 cases reported out of 100,000 (720 fewer than the national average). In short, very little stress was associated with being a skilled tradesman, which correlates to a limited negative impact on mental health. Happy days.
Moreover, being surrounded by friends and the camaraderie that entails can be a booster for many in the profession. This is especially true for those with an extroverted personality, who thrive off being around others and the extra stimulus of social interaction. That being said, there’s certainly a place for tradespeople who like to keep themselves to themselves and just get the work done.
4. Boosts Vitamin D levels
In general, the UK public does not get enough vitamin D. The British Nutrition Foundation found that just under a third of adults have low-levels of vitamin D between January and March. Although the dreary UK climate is partly to blame for this, there is also the fact that a huge number of Brits spend most of their working days inside.
Aside from being claustrophobic and stuffy, multiple reports have linked office workers with vitamin D deficiency due to receiving a lack of sunlight. In contrast, builders are under the sun for most of the day. Not only do they get a tremendous tan as a result, this also allows them to get the necessary fix of vitamin D, which has a positive effect on both physical and mental health. For instance, the vital vitamin strengthens the immune system which helps to fight disease, and is linked with lowering depression levels. We bet you’re counting your blessings you’re a tradesman right now!