Physical fitness and wellbeing usually does not rank very high in lawyer priorities. As previously mentioned in a piece on the London Fire Brigade, lawyering is mostly an intellectual endeavour which involves sitting for lengthy periods. As long as they feel fit enough to do their job (sitting for long hours), lawyers tend to view their physical health as perfectly adequate, ignoring the long-term poor health effects of a sedentary desk job. Sedentary behaviours are a known risk factor for cancer, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and early death.
How do you change your habits around to improve your physical health? How do you fit exercise in your family life, juggling kids and work? The good news is, you don’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve to get started…
If you think that any type of physical activity under one hour is not worth it, think again. More and more research shows it’s quality, not quantity, that counts. In a busy schedule, any exercise is better than no exercise, whether you work from home or at the office.
- Take walk-and-talk or arrange ‘standing meetings’ and conference calls – rather than sitting in a meeting room.
- Walk to client meetings or court appointments.
- At lunchtime, make a habit to go out and walk around your neighbourhood for at least 20 minutes. Set a timer on your phone or check your watch and keep walking. At Obelisk Support, Naz, Tech Support Analyst, takes a daily walk in the neighborhood to unplug and stay fit. She has inspired quite a few to follow suit, like Katie and Debbie.
- Do five sit-ups in the morning before you get dressed.
- Do 30 minutes of yoga while your child is taking a nap. For inspiration, YogaGlo runs subscription-based online classes and Yoga with Adrienne provides free YouTube tutorials.
- Stretch while listening to a song or soothing radio station such as Classic FM.
- Download short fitness routines on YouTube. Jessica Smith TV and PopSugar Fitness provide 10-minute solutions.
- When going to work, get off the train or tube a few stops early and run or walk from there.
- Walk the stairs, skip elevators and escalators.
Rise & Shine
Many lawyers find it easier to fit in any physical exercise before breakfast or work, as it makes them feel great for the rest of the day and boosts their metabolism. If they can refrain from checking their phones and messages before working out, they’re more likely to just get up and exercise rather than start scrolling down long to-do lists. Here are a few ideas to spice up your mornings.
Cycle to Work
If you work at an office in the city and can plan your route along cycling lanes, riding a bicycle to work is one of the best ways to workout without realising it.Plus, you need to get to work anyway – you might as well make your work commute 100% beneficial to your physical health. Not only is it budget-friendly, but it also helps improve pollution in the city and you get to enjoy open skies year-round.
Whether you are a Strava cyclist or a casual user of self-service bicycles, cycling increases your cardiovascular fitness and decreases stress levels. Check existing Cycling Superhighways to navigate London streets via safe and fast cycling lanes. Sophie, Obelisk Support‘s Operations Manager, cycles over 20K per day to get to work, using a combination of city streets and cycling superhighways.
Navy Seal Challenge
Hardcore lawyers might want to try the Navy Seal 4.30am challenge, which assumingly, help you get a jump on the day when nobody else is awake yet, giving you the opportunity to do things that you need to get done selfishly for yourself, such as working out. It might not feel good at 4.30am when you get up, but – by the time 7am rolls around, and you’ve already worked out, already got some work done, and you’ve still got some time to say goodbye to your kids before they go to school – you’ll feel totally in control of your life.
Of course, the tradeoff is going to sleep early at night and as this video shows, it’s probably the hardest part.
Morning Swim Routine
If you can’t stomach waking up at 4.30am, try going to pre-breakfast gym or swim classes. Laure, Marketing Manager at Obelisk Support, is an avid open water swimmer. She swims between 3 and 10K a week, all before work. Swimming helps her keep a bad lower back in check and open water swimming boosts her immune system year round, keeping seasonal allergies and winter colds at bay.
Her swim routine includes
- Two weekly masters swim classes from 6.30 to 7.30am (before breakfast and school),
- One to three open water swims between school drop-off and work, and
- One or two weekend open water swims (before breakfast).
If you have a swimming pool near you that opens before 6.30am, try to plan on being there at opening time for 30 minutes three times a week to relax your muscles and stretch with your swimming stroke of choice.
Workout with Project Awesome
In London, Bristol and Edinburgh, Project Awesome is a community of people who offer “free, fun, badass workouts in your city,” kickstarting your day the awesome way. Yes, they’re early birds and they meet at 6.30am. Yes, they’re city folks and understand that healthy habits set you up in the right direction for the day. Also, they’re friendly and tend to join group events to motivate you going the extra mile.
Night Bird Habits
If your kids think that sleeping is overrated, or your lunch hour is not an option because you’re on flexible schedules, then exercising after work and after dinner are great options too. Here are a few ideas.
- Sign up for adult dance classes in the evening, preferably with a partner or friend to make it more fun.
- Go on a 4 to 5K run after work with your kids as they ride their bikes (kills two stones in one go, your fitness and your kids’).
- Go for a walk around the block with a friendly neighbour after dinner, which takes care of your social and exercise needs.
- In London, GoodGym organises evening runs with a charitable purpose, running to help out older people with one-off practical tasks that they are no longer able to do on their own.
- If the weather or circumstances don’t cooperate, try Leslie Sansone Walking at Home YouTube videos to … walk at home.
Fit Lawyers on Social Media
Some corporate lawyers have thousands of social media followers and it’s not necessarily for their legal skills. Check out the following for fitness inspiration:
When the work week is over, you can enjoy your weekend and take a rest. Or, if you feel like indulging, go out for a morning run, a walk outdoors and exercise some more!