Working in a labour job is like a workout in itself – you’re moving all day by walking, bending, lifting, pushing, etc. For hours, your heart rate is increased and you’re burning way more calories than you would if you had a desk job. People who work in physical labour jobs tend to have more endurance and “natural strength” than a lot of people who workout at the gym. With that being said: once your body gets used to your new active position, it won’t feel so strenuous anymore. There is also no progressive overload when it comes to most labour jobs – you’re lifting and pushing the same weight everyday so you won’t be challenging your body enough to build new muscles (If you’re hoping to build muscle or become more lean). This is when you will want to balance out your active days with focused workouts at home or at the gym. So, how does one balance a fitness routine when they’re already active for their day job?
Let yourself get used to the new job first. It’s going to take time for your body to get used to the new labour everyday, especially if you’ve mostly worked at desk jobs in the past. You don’t want to push yourself when you’re first getting used to being physically active at work. This will be a different kind of soreness from your usual workouts, because this isn’t in a controlled gym environment and you’ll be exercising for much longer. So, give the body time – a few weeks to a couple of months depending on who you are – before adding workouts on top of your job. What I will say is that stretching becomes very important at this stage.
Make sure you stretch everyday. Stretching is always important when it comes to your physical health, but it becomes paramount when your day job needs you to be active and agile for 7+ hours per day. Stretching helps to prevent injuries, improve your range of motion, and relieve tight and sore muscles. Don’t wait to start stretching once you’ve started working at a labour job – if you do, you’ll likely be really sore and you don’t want to risk being injured.
Start slow with the workouts. Once you’ve grown accustomed to your new active job and you feel like you could use more of a workout, be sure to start slow. Focus on functional workouts such as core strengthening exercises, yoga for flexibility, full body pilates, a jog, etc. It’s important that you listen to your body to know what it’s ready for. Some days you’ll feel totally wiped out after a long day, especially if it’s mentally stressful as well, so in that case a gentle stretch would be better. The workouts don’t need to be long at first – try a short 15 minute routine and see how you feel the next day.
Remember that you need rest days. Some people are active 7 days per week and for the short term that’s okay if you have the energy, but even then the body simply needs rest. If you’re very active, it’s important that you take at least one rest day per week to let your muscles recover. If you’re restless, a long walk or a low impact activity at the park is just fine (An active rest day). Just be mindful to take care of yourself and that you’re not overtraining, because this can lead to injuries down the line.
Is it necessary to workout when you have an active job?
The short answer: It’s not “necessary”, but it’s helpful.
The long answer: Technically, lifting, walking, climbing, and pushing for 7-8 hours per day goes beyond the daily exercise time that doctors recommend. However, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a different kind of workout. Your body becomes used to the repetition and it won’t be challenged in the way that a structured workout would challenge it.
Taken from an article at Verywellfit.com, a health professional breaks this down for us. “Strength or resistance exercise can counteract the stresses of a manual labor job,” says Fishman. The stronger and healthier your body is, the longer you will be able to complete tasks that require repetitive stress. The best way to prepare for that stress is to make your body stronger.
So exercises that strengthen the core, glutes, back, arms, and legs can actually enhance your work performance while preventing injuries. These can also help reduce blood pressure, as some studies show that working an active job can actually increase blood pressure since your heart rate is up for hours at a time with few breaks. An unfortunate truth, but it’s something to bear in mind (Keeping up a good fitness routine on top of your labour job can help offset this increased blood pressure, though).
All in all, balance is key. If you enjoy working active jobs, that’s great! 🙂 I tend to gravitate towards them, too, once I’ve grown tired of a desk job or if I want to have more of a hustle to my day. Balancing a labour job out with a healthy diet, daily stretching, and functional workouts will help maintain good health and offset the high blood pressure that some labour jobs can cause (I think a lot of this is probably linked to some labourers drinking and smoking a lot after work, moreso than the work itself, but one would need to do more research on the matter).
So, there we have it! I hope you enjoyed these tips if you’re working at an active job. I know some days the last thing you want to do is workout when you’ve been on your feet all day – and that’s when something gentle like Pilates or yoga is better. On those days you have more energy, a strength training session can help maintain your health and reach your fitness goals. (Disclaimer: I’m not a health professional, but all of this information is taken from advice given by health professionals in addition to personal experience from being fit and working in physical jobs from time to time).
Thanks for stopping by today! And don’t forget to stretch. 😉