Left-handed, lefty, southpaw – these are all terms used to describe people who favor their left hands for writing, throwing a ball and myriad other activities. It is estimated that between 10 and 12 percent of all people are left-handed. Although that makes southpaws an undeniable minority, the number of left-handed people is creeping up.
Left-handers are worthy of notice and recognition. As such, explore these interesting facts and figures about left-handers.
Being left-handed may confer an advantage for athletes. Wayne Gretzky, Sandy Koufax and Martina Navratilova are just a few of the many accomplished left-handed sports legends. Sports scientist Florian Loffing with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Oldenburg in Germany found that in sports where there is a short time constraint, lefties appeared to excel. That could be why he found 26 percent of the top male players in table tennis are lefties. And sports like baseball and cricket are dominated by left-handed players.
Health risks and benefits
Lefties should take notice that there may be some side effects to being left-handed. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found those who were left-handed had an increased risk for dyslexia, ADHD and certain mood disorders. It could be tied to the hemispheres of the brain and how 30 percent of left-handed people are partial to the right hemisphere or have no dominant hemisphere for language functioning.
Conversely, lefties can bounce back from stroke or other brain-related injuries more readily than righties, according to data published in 2015 in Scientific Reports. Also, a study published in Laterality found that left-handed people are less likely to suffer arthritis and ulcers.
Lefties are more likely to be artistic or innovative. Research published in the American Journal of Psychology found there is some evidence that left-handed people are better at divergent thinking, a method of idea generation that explores many possible solutions. The Left-Handers Club, a pro-lefty advocacy group, also found that left-handed individuals tend to be drawn to careers in the arts, music, sports, and information-technology fields.
The world is geared towards being right-handed, with buttons on jackets, doorknobs, desks in school, and more designed with right-handed people in mind. Therefore, many lefties become ambidextrous simply because they have to, according to data published in Reader’s Digest.
Many notable people have been left-handed, including eight U.S. Presidents. James A. Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all are or were left-handed.