Exercise is important for everyone, but it might be particularly crucial for lawyers. Lawyers are almost four times more likely to suffer from depression than the general population. Also, the profession tends to have higher suicide rates, while drug and alcohol abuse is rampant. In other words, if there ever were an occupation that should require its practitioners to exercise regularly, it’s the legal field.
Of course, fitting a workout into your busy day is easier said than done. Here, some tips that will help:
Mark Your Calendar
We all live by our daily calendars. If it’s not on the schedule, it’s probably not going to happen. Same goes for working out. At the beginning of your week, figure out exactly when you are going to work out and block out that time.
Your best bet: Get it done in the morning. For one thing, levels of cortisol, also known as ‘the stress hormone’ are typically higher when you wake up, a phenomenon known as Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR). By incorporating exercise first thing in the morning, you allow your body to release endorphins which can offset those higher levels of cortisol.
Also, working out in the morning allows you to reap the benefits of a revved up metabolism all day. This is what’s called the EPOC theory (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). After strenuous exercise, the body is at an oxygen deficit as it tries to return to its normal resting levels of metabolic function. According to the American Council on Exercise, “Similar to how a car’s engine remains warm after being turned off, once a workout is over and you’re back in your daily routine, your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories then when at complete rest.” What’s better than that?
Break it Up
You don’t need to spend two hours in the gym each day to get results. You also don’t need to run ten miles or set a personal record at every workout. In fact, shorter bursts of exercise might actually be better for your heart and your muscles.
As a former CrossFit coach, I’ve learned firsthand that combining cardio, strength, and core training together in short 20 minute bursts certainly gets the job done. Incorporate full-body movements such as mountain climbers and squat jumps. Whatever form of exercise you choose, try not to overthink your workouts. Keep it simple, and you’ll more likely get the job done.
Track Your Movements
Wearable fitness trackers are all the rage these days, and judging from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month, that’s not going to stop any time soon. (There were more than 50 wearable tech products on the exhibitor list alone). That’s good news. If you use your wearable correctly, you can set goals for how many steps you should take each day so you’ll know if and when you’ve got to get moving to meet your target.
Wearable exercise trackers come in many forms, and it is important to assess your personal priorities to choose the right one for you. Some features to consider: Style, price, GPS capability, heart rate monitor, water resistance, and smart watch features (email, text messages, music storage, etc.) Understanding and comparing the plethora of products can be a daunting task. Two comprehensive options that won’t break the bank: The Garmin vivosmart HR Activity Tracker and the Fitbit Charge 2. You can learn additional details and about other products here.
Take a Cue from Aristotle
Aristotle was known to conduct student lectures while strolling around. His students came to be called Peripatetics (which mean traveling from place to place.) Sigmund Freud also used to conduct consults with his patients while walking. It’s important to note that working while walking has tremendous benefits over sitting all day which can lead to spine compression, weakened core, poor circulation, flexibility and joint mobility issues.
It is believed that just 20 minutes of brisk walking each day can possibly add years onto your life. Another study by researchers at Stanford University showed that walking boosts creative inspiration. So make sure you get up from your desk every few hours and take a quick walk, even if it’s just around your building. Doing so will help you clear your mind and help you log tons of steps on your fitness tracker. It’s a win-win.
Just Do It
Think of your workouts kind of like a case. The truth is, attorneys handle emotional situations in cases all the time, but they have to remain level-headed and focus on the facts in order to present a valid case and do what’s best for their clients. So while you might not feel like exercising, it’s important to ignore those thoughts and focus on the facts: Exercise is crucial to your mental and physical well-being and should be a non-negotiable. In fact, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular exercise can ward off depression, reduce the risk of hear disease and stroke, and keep your thinking, learning, and judging skills sharp throughout your life.
Julie Weidenfeld is a fitness expert and author of many articles on the subject for publications such as USA Today and The Huffington Post. Check out her blog at www.travelfitinc.com.