The Benefits of Working With Your Hands

The Benefits of Working With Your Hands

Often people shy away from the blue collar trades precisely because they find that it would be too physically demanding for them. Ironically, it is exactly the physicality of the trades that offers its lucky practitioners amazing health benefits. Being a blue collar worker myself I’ve known this for years. I can go months if not the whole year without getting caught with a single cold, while my family sneezes and coughs the days away.  This is even weirder, because I work outside in all manner of weather. Shouldn’t I be coping with the flu every couple of months? Not surprisingly, I’m not alone. Many of my colleagues, men who work 50+ hours a week doing physical work, report very few major illnesses as well. 

What gives? 

Well, studies have shown that the more physical we are during the day the less likely we are to get sick. Doesn’t it make sense then to find a job that makes us sweat more that sit?  Well, the trades are perfect for that.


Working with your hands is also good for your brain

It’s not just your physical body that gets a boost when you work with your hands; your brain does as well.  Neuroscientists, studying the plasticity of the brain, have been astonished to discover exactly how malleable our most sensitive organ is.  By the simple act of using our hands, be it rewiring a home’s electricity, laying bricks, or simply sweeping, we can forge entire new neuro pathways in our brains that could not be made in a less physically active environment.  The trades also require linear, pragmatic and practical skills. These manipulations and applications are a much needed balance to the often, ephemeral and totally theoretical world of numbers and figures that many of us live in the modern workplace. My father, an advertising executive and writer, used to tell me he would get all his great ideas after going for a run or working on his boat. So being able to hit a nail with a hammer, cut precise measurements, and build from zero, these are all actions that help train our brain to be better.


If you want to live longer, work with your hands!

He’s not a doctor, and he hasn’t seen one for 70 years.  He’s 88 years old and has worked for the past 65 years as a landscaper, driving his old fire truck everyday up and down the long streets of urban and suburban residential areas for at least the past 30 years. He also happens to be my neighbor. With big strong hands and a twinkly in his eye he tells me, that when he worked, back breaking work, ever since he was a teenager, he never once got sick.  Then with a warning stare he tells me of a friend who made it in life, got too lazy, and suffered untold health problems. 

Moral of the story.  If you want to be healthy you have to work hard, physically hard. No cushy life for you. Sitting in an office, breathing recycled air, it’s just not natural and can lead to so many health problems, mental and physical. Ever heard of a burnout? I thought so.


No need for a shrink either

Speaking of mental health, I have to say the trades are perfect for regulating it.  I mean, what’s a better thing to do when stressed out with life then to let the old sledgehammer swing.  I tell you there is nothing quite like doing some rooftop demolition when you need to “express” yourself.

All in all whether it’s the latest studies, intuition, or just plain experience, one thing is for sure, when you work with your hands, you are happier, healthier, stronger, and full of energy than when confined. It’s one of the major benefits of the trades and one angle I push constantly when trying to get people to get interested in taking up a trade.


Are you ready to lend a hand?


This is just an informative article. There is no medical expertise behind. Please consult an expert before engaging in any strenuous or physical activity.