Lawyer Well-Being: The Physical Dimension

Regular physical activity/movement is a critical prerequisite to thriving and can be accomplished in many ways. I ran in the Vancouver Sun Run this year and saw folks who walked, some who ran, and some who did both. Many participated in teams because exercising can be more enjoyable and doable when done with others. If organized events are not for you, and even if they are, we also need to find ways to move our bodies throughout the day, particularly at work. 

Preliminary research findings from Columbia University indicate that 5-minute movement breaks improved energy levels, improved mood, and increased work quality. Individuals who took breaks every 30 minutes showed 30% improvement and those who took breaks every 1-2 hours showed 25% and 20% improvement, respectively. Depending upon your physical ability, integrating movement in your day can include going outside or around the office for a walk, standing up and doing stretches, marching in place, having walking meetings, and starting your day by parking a little further away from the office. 

Of course, remembering to take the break is where the rubber meets the road. In that regard, low tech is good tech. The simplest way is to set an alarm on your phone. You can also pay attention to your body cues. Are your eyes tired? Are you having trouble focusing? Are you fidgeting in your seat? If you are craving a snack, consider having an “exercise snack” instead of, or in addition to, food. Once you experience the benefits of regular movement breaks, remembering those benefits will provide the momentum to make it a habit. One caution, avoid “all or nothing” thinking and acknowledge gradual progress. Twice a day is better than no breaks, one or two minutes is better than zero minutes. 

As we are all well aware, regular physical activity is essential for thriving, whether through organized events like the Sun Run or incorporating movement breaks throughout the day at work. The good news is that these practices are achievable and have a lasting effect on our mental health and effectiveness at work.

Michael Kahn
Michael Kahn, M.Ed.,JD joined LAPBC in 2019.