Just like many “planned” gym workouts, construction work can range from light, low-intensity activity to heavy work that taxes many of the body’s muscles and systems. Construction work can burn a lot of calories and provide similar benefits to those you can get from a gym workout. It is however often more hazardous than working out in the safety of an indoor gym.
Working construction compares well to many gym exercises in terms of calories burned. General tasks like carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, painting indoors and laying carpet or tile burn about the same number of calories as walking briskly at 4.0 miles per hour, or a moderate-intensity weight lifting session. Heavier construction work, like roofing, framing and concrete work, burn as many calories per minute as vigorous weight lifting, swimming or working out on a stair-master machine. Construction work does not burn as many calories as vigorous cardio-vascular exercise though.
Performing a number of construction tasks takes strength, but construction work is not ideal for building muscular strength. The work is too repetitive; the same jobs are completed in the same manner and with the same equipment day after day. Once you’re used to swinging a 16-ounce hammer, you don’t go up to a 32-ounce hammer; you just keep using the same hammer. With a gym workout, the whole point is to keep developing by increasing the weight lifted and even the number of sets and repetitions performed. Weight training allows you to sculpt a balanced physique.
When you look at the big picture of overall health, construction work can actually be bad for you. In addition to the repetitive movements that can lead to overuse injuries, construction workers are subjected to hazardous working conditions, including extreme temperatures, slippery surfaces, sharp objects and unsafe chemicals to name a few. If you are in poor physical condition when you started your construction job, then you may have something to worry about. Men who were not physically fit and who worked at physically challenging jobs had a greater risk of heart attack death than those who were more physically fit to begin with.
Construction crews should make a plan to get together and go to a gym on a weekly basis! Choose exercises that will benefit the specific jobs each person performs on a daily basis. If you have to climb a lot of ladders for example, maybe 30 minutes on the stair master machine would be a good choice! If you swing a sledge hammer on the job, a good area to work on would be your upper arms and shoulders. Maybe there is an even better idea! See Epilogue.
Maybe Coca-Cola is looking for a new hot “construction guy” for their next Diet Coke commercial!