Staying Healthy as You Age in the Roofing Industry

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September is Healthy Aging® Month and an opportunity to highlight how roofers can stay healthy in order to continue to perform their strenuous job. The workforce as a whole is aging, but the median age of construction workers in particular was 40.4 in 2010. That was up from 37.9 in 2000.

Construction work is physically demanding and requires strength, flexibility, and balance. They also need to work in a variety of conditions and use a variety of tools that will test their strength and endurance. While the job can be grueling, workers may not want to switch jobs as they age because that would result in a reduction in income or benefits. Studies have found that while injuries are less frequent for older construction workers, they can be more severe when they do occur. Staying strong is a must to continue to work for many years in this industry.

Here are some tips from Tony Williams from Van De Steeg & Associates on how to stay fit on the roof.

  • Stretch: This is a key element to remaining flexible and pliable on the roof. It helps us be able to stay safe while grabbing the tools we need to get the job done. I do ham string stretches. You can do this by sitting on the ground and sticking one leg out straight and bending the other and pulling the foot into the groin area while lightly leaning your torso forward. This type of stretch allows more flexibility in your lower back and calves.
  • Strengthen core muscles: We have to keep our core muscles strong in order to be able to stand on an unbalanced surface. Keeping our core in shape helps us maintain stability and keeps us safe. A really great exercise I do to strengthen my core is daily planks. You can do this by laying on a mat and pulling yourself yourself up by your feet and forearms. Make your body as rigid as a board and hold it in 30-second increments until you feel fatigued. The more you do, the longer you’ll be able to hold the pose and increase the number of repetitions you’ll be able to complete.
  • Eat complex carbs: Stay away from processed sugars like soda and candy and eat plenty of protein to keep up energy levels throughout the day. As a roofer, you want to eat like you would if you are running a marathon. Things like heavy protein and whole grain carbs will help you sustain energy for longer amounts of time. The night before I have a big job, I eat things like whole grain penne pasta with a lean meat and light sauce. Stay away from filler foods.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking throughout the day is important in any job that is physical in nature, but especially in roofing where you are out in the sun and elements all day. I drink a ton of water but I also like having a glass of tea at lunch, mixing a vitamin packet with my water mid-day, and occasionally having a Gatorade G2 to get my electrolytes. I recommend staying away from energy drinks because they are packed with processed sugars.

What tips do you have to stay in shape for roofing? Share in the comments below.

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  1. Dean Haynes

    I’m 54 years young. Been in construction, mostly roofing, since 1983! Wow… I’ve never typed that before, but it’s true. Anyway, I have put on some weight and as I age, it gets harder to shed pounds. Since Thanksgiving last year, I have given up on colas, pop, etc.. Just 3 weeks ago, I gave up sweet tea! That’s a hard thing for an Okie but I had to cut back on sugar intake. About a month ago, I did drink a Coke during the work day. After about an he after I finished it, I had a really bad sugar crash. I stayed sluggish for the rest of the day. Just take it easy on the sugary drinks, for sure

  2. Tim

    I’m 56 and I’ve been roofing for 22 years. I eat as healthy as I can, no pop. I try to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I am in better physical condition now than I was at 34 before I started roofing.

  3. Steve Lewis

    I’m 49 yrs young and as a ex employee of Flynn Ca. also being a UK Specialist Flat Roofing contractor based within the UK for the last 29 years.
    I have found the only way to keep up with the jobs every day’s demands is to keep fit and try to eat sensibly.
    A lot of upper body training because of the lifting involved and having to stand or knell for long periods of time in uncomfortable positions.
    Twisting the upper body to adapt to the work conditions.

  4. Scott Jackman

    Thanks for the tips GAF, Our roofing manufacture for DaBella Exteriors in Portland Oregon.
    Way to help out your crews stay fit and strong for the work and their families.

    Scott Jackman

  5. Roger

    I will be 50 in October 2016 and I feel like a I have at least 10 more years left in me to do the work that I’ve been doing for the past 25 years plus (ROOFING)
    It’s a hard job but I love it.

  6. Stevie

    Great article,

    Sounds like great advise even for someone about to do a workout. I find stretching at any age to be of importance as it does reduce your chance of injuries

  7. Red

    Thanks for the tips gentlemen. Im only 24 and been doing this for 5 years but i feel like ive already destroyed my body. Maybe i should cut down on the pop and get more rest everyday. But roofing in Florida just sucks entirely.

  8. Paul

    Get in the gym start weight training and strengthen you core up! When your lower back hurts, it’s actually coming from your hip flexors and the pain is showing up in the lower back! Stretch out the hips, groin, hams and glutes! You will thank me trust! Good luck!

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