4 benefits to working with our hands

4 benefits to working with our hands

When Pete Geyeman enters the woodshop at Good Samaritan – St. Martin Village, his hands get busy measuring wood, guiding a saw and gluing pieces together.

At 88, he started woodworking a little over three years ago after moving into his senior apartment.

It’s a place to fiddle around and try something new. And if a project goes bad, it makes good firewood.” – Pete Geyeman, Good Samaritan – St. Martin Village resident 

Using our hands helps us stay both mentally and physically active. This can include activities like baking, gardening or sewing. 

Here are a few benefits we gain when our hands and brains get busy creating.

Two men stand in a woodshop
Pete Geyeman started working in the woodshop after Dave Ditmer encouraged him to learn something new.

1. A sense of accomplishment

When Pete moved to St. Martin Village, “I thought, this is perfect because I don’t have to do a darn thing, all I have to do is relax,” he says. But after a few months, Pete was ready for more activity than movies or reading had to offer. When the woodshop opened up, fellow residents, including Dave Ditmer, encouraged him to come over.

“Dave was able to show me how to use this and that," Pete says, "so I’ve been really busy over there practically every day.”

Read 6 ways to boost your well-being

2. Staying active

Woodworking keeps Pete moving. You’ll find him at the lumberyard picking out a variety of wood. In the shop, he cuts the wood into rings with different diameters. After gluing the rings together, he used a lathe to carve and smooth the edges. The result is a multi-layered wooden bowl.

He also has to do the brainwork of careful concentration.

You have to pay attention to what you’re doing, especially if you’re working around saws." – Pete Geyeman

Other activities to explore:

  • Needlepoint
  • Painting/drawing
  • Knitting/crocheting
  • Journaling
  • Origami
  • Collaging
  • Sewing
  • Metalworking

3. Fostering creativity

Pete enjoys making bowls and birdhouses and is always looking for new projects. He’s made crosses for church and has done some furniture, although that’s not his favorite type of woodworking.

“It’s really a fun, inexpensive hobby,” he says. “I like to use different exotic woods and so forth, which is a new challenge.” He’s used plywood before, too, and always keeps an eye out for something new to experiment with.

4. Satisfaction through lifelong learning

The last time Pete was in a woodshop was in high school in 1948, but it wasn’t until his move to St. Martin Village that he learned how to do fine woodworking.

Earlier this year, staff and fellow woodworkers encouraged him to enter a few of his projects in the local county fair. Pete received a best overall award along with four first-class ribbons.

For others searching for a new hobby or interest, his advice is to “do something that keeps you active.”

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