I’ve watched the runners decline with the colder weather as I ride my bike first thing in the morning over this past two or three weeks. Dog walkers too have freed up my cycling space on the paths and cycling has become a treat as cyclists ride the bus and drive the car. It made me conscious that a fairly large percentage of people will put their outdoor workout on hold until the springtime comes and if I were to do the same with my ‘bench presses’ for upper body exercise at the workbench on hold I would indeed be in sorry shape.
So many of you have written in over the years to say how much your mental and physical health has improved by following the hand tool methods we teach. Who would have thought it. Not only is the whole workshop environment much healthier but you get to keep your fingers, hands, eyes and fresh air to breath to say nothing of listening to music or the radio.
I saw this article in the UK’s Daily Express yesterday and it made me conscious that I have indeed been saved from so much body deterioration despite being diabetic (third generation), elderly (who said that?), a manual worker (with 55 years on my feet at the workbench). What I once took for granted in my good health and wellbeing I now see totally as a real gift to me despite me. That said, I do attribute most if not all of this success to my simply working at the workbench and rarely sitting down for very long periods at all. That said, I am mindful of many people who have experienced poor health despite such exposure, men I worked with, but much of their ill health stemmed from the Second World War. But then too my building many other things I have worked on through the years has really helped, like many house restorations from ground to roof, building sheds and outdoor buildings, also building two of my homes and extending others. Of course there has been working for others in their homes, my moving houses ten times in as many years, things like that. I mustn’t forget the marathon workouts I used to get teaching back-to-back classes at the same workbenches I worked at making furniture during the in-between days, classes for dozens of kids in the evenings. I think what’s helped me the most has been not having any time to waste on peripheral things. I don’t do well with holidays where mostly I feel lost, as in like a fish out of water. I could never lay on a beach just to soak up the sun. I preferred to walk on them, build castles, play with kids and enjoy the waves crashing around. I am an action man! I workout by doing.
I’m grateful for your input. You’ve confirmed my gut-feeling intuition over and over and over. When I started out I didn’t really know about the good feeling side of things in particular or that working with your hands would mean as much to you as it dis to me. What I did and do know is woodworking with hand tools and machine work are not one and the same and that I get no particular muscle workout of any real value when just using machines alone and that means mental muscle (I know, there is no muscle in the brain per se.), emotional muscle, physical and so on. Let me tell you something: many woodworkers working at machines all day lose concentration and that’s when serious things go wrong. The machine is indeed mesmerising as are the repetitious actions. I know this because I have lived in that world. Cut 2,000 of anything and it gets old fast and that means you lose concentration when you may well need it the most. Thankfully we amateur woodworkers don’t have to do such things because we can live off of the conveyor belt whereas many professionals don’t have that choice because their job would be at stake. Think about it. If you spend four hours a week working at the bench using hand tools for a large percentage of what you make you get the equivalent of 12 twenty minute workouts that can often raise the heart rate to pump oxygen from the lungs to the muscles you are using. This muscle includes the cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle and smooth muscle. Think pulse, eyes, breathing, expansion and contraction and so on. This is all exercise we can take on and use for actually producing the things we need and that of course additionally includes wellness, contentment and such. I have heard from partners and spouses how markedly improved their spouses mental awareness, happiness and wellbeing as become. What we are doing goes way beyond just shoving wood around and making the things we make.