Health Benefits of Chopping Firewood
Chopping firewood is my favorite chore. I was just doing some choppin' yesterday evening, and it got me thinking about all the great health benefits of chopping wood by hand.
There are, of course, a bunch of practical reasons to split wood, the number one reason being to provide a source of heat for your home if you use a woodstove. Secondary to that would be the desire to have campfires, bonfires, or other types of outdoor fires for pleasure, or even using a wood burning cookstove in your home.
But why split wood by hand when you can rent, buy, or build a log-splitter? Well, let's take a look at some of the benefits to body and mind of chopping firewood.
Chopping Firewood is Great Exercise
When you chop firewood with hand tools like axes and splitting mauls, you put several different muscle groups to work.
Your shoulders, arms, and chest get a great workout swinging the axe and picking up the wood you're working on. I have very "un-girly" (but totally cool) forearm and bicep muscles to offer as proof of that.
Your legs and gluteals also get a good workout, because if you're chopping properly you should be using your legs to generate power in your swing.
And then there's everyone's favorite muscle group to work on: the abdominals. When you swing an axe, you pull downward using your stomach muscles all the way. The axe should go straight down the middle of your body to get the best workout, and more importantly to avoid back injury. Chopping firewood is kind of like doing a bunch of crunches standing up - only a lot less boring. This works your obliques too. After a long morning or afternoon of chopping wood, I feel the muscle fatigue in my abs more than anywhere else.
If you keep chopping wood, you can build definition in your shoulder and upper back muscles as well.
Chopping Firewood is a Great Stress Reliever
Have you ever been so mad that you wanted to break something, but not mad enough to actually do it? Do you have a certain co-worker or family member that you sometimes wish you could just smack in the face?
I'm certainly not advocating such behaviors, but what I will advocate is that chopping wood is an awesome stress reliever, and just about the best outlet for frustration that I've ever found.
During any activity that requires exertion, chopping wood included, your body produces and releases endorphins and adrenaline - both feel-good chemicals! After chopping, once you've exerted yourself and spent some energy, you get a little tired and can finally relax from your stresses.
If you're angry, frustrated, or just having a bad day, I'd suggest picking up your axe and splitting some firewood. You get to participate in a process that is simulaneously destructive and creative: you're dismantling part of a tree, for heaven's sake, but you're also making firewood, something useful.
FIREWOOD CHOPPING TIP
- Use a stump to set the wood on that you intend to split. Elevating the logs will help stop you from straining your back.
- When you've chopped all the wood, split the stump!
Chopping Firewood Builds Self-Confidence
I'm not sure if chopping wood has the same confidence-building effect on men as it does on women, but I have a hunch that it can't hurt. From personal experience, I can tell you that it does a lot for the self-confidence of a young woman. Who's going to mess with me when I'm toting an 8-pound splitting maul, with a blade that I sharpened by hand with a file?
Ladies, let me present you with two mental pictures: In the first, a woman is running on a treadmill in the gym, wearing shorts and a sports bra, and just as expected some guy is checking out her butt - whether she's offended or not, he probably doesn't expect her to be. But all she's doing is trying to get some exercise!
Second mental image: A woman is chopping firewood, wearing jeans or work pants and a t-shirt or workshirt. She's swinging a heavy, sharp axe and busting open logs. She might look pretty good doing it, and maybe some guy wants to check out her butt... on second thought, that axe looks awfully dangerous!
In all seriousness, chopping firewood by hand can be a great self-confidence and self-esteem booster. You get to be strong and feel strong, and use your muscles the way they were meant to be used. Oftentimes you'll even get to use your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills so that you can deal with a particularly unfriendly log. Add to that the rush of adrenaline and endorphines that are produced during exercise, and you're feeling pretty good!
Plus, performing real physical work with a real purpose can feel a lot more rewarding than doing some crunches or running in place (not that there's anything inherentingly wrong with treadmills!).
Take this poll, please!
Interested in chopping wood by hand?
I would be lying if I tried to represent that chopping firewood by hand is easier than using a machine such as a log-splitter; maybe it's not even as efficient, and maybe it doesn't even make as much sense as using a machine.
But I know I'm being honest when I say it's more fun, and better for you. Even if you don't have much of a practical reason to try your hand at choppin', I hope you'll consider giving it a try anyway!