There are many health benefits to be gained from attending your local Men’s Shed, from increasing physical fitness by walking from home to the Shed, becoming actively engaging in whatever is going on or simply combating loneliness by spending time with like minded folk. One would be amazed how many times one will bend down to pick something up, help somebody else with a project, vacuum the shed and/or carry stuff in and out the Shed. All this is movement and exercise which really can mount up and benefit one without even realising one is exercising. When Bob (90 years young) came to the Shed he used a walking stick, 9 months later he doesn’t need it anymore.
Many men are not comfortable with the idea of just sitting down for long periods of time with a cup of tea and a biscuit and talking in a café or hall type setting. However, if you were to shift that idea and combine it also with ‘doing’ where you are maybe helping others, learning something new or perhaps showing other men your skills, playing cards, learning to cook, model making, upholstering furniture, playing music/bands, practising speaking with one another after having a stroke, swapping stories or learning computer skills, the possibilities are endless and it takes on a whole new life of its own. You change from a passive lifestyle e.g. watching loads of television to an active, participatory lifestyle.
A term you might hear in Sheds, which was first said by Professor Barry Golding, patron of the Australian Men’s Movement is : ‘Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder,’ whilst working or enjoying a hobby with their mates. They might discuss their own health issues with other men and find that someone has had a similar experience and has a lot of helpful insights on how to get through it themselves. Once this comradery has been established in a Shed over time, sometimes men in the Sheds go on to initiate outside speakers to come to the shed to share their knowledge. A variety of speakers and talks have been hosted in Scottish Sheds already e.g. Chest, heart and stroke, bereavement, prostate cancer, suicide, healthy eating, wills etc. Men want to know about this information to increase their personal understanding but also to enable them on how to support a friend in the Shed or partners, family members or neighbours in the outside world.
For many men who attend a Men’s Shed regularly it is the highlight of their week. It is as much a social gathering as it is a place of learning or skill sharing and can have a hugely positive effect on those who become part of their local Shed, families and communities.