9 Ways a Simple Stroll Can Make a Lawyer’s Life Better
By Aaron H. Wallace, Esq.
What follows is not a litany of the ways that exercise is good for a lawyer’s body and mind.
That’s true, of course, and important. But today is an opportunity to consider something more specific and implementable in a lawyer’s everyday life: walking.
Isn’t walking just exercise, you ask?
Is Clark Kent just a journalist?
To be sure, walking brings with it many of the benefits associated with other forms of exercise, some of them particularly well served by walking and others less so relative to the physiological rewards of a run.
But walking offers a unique constellation of cognitive, emotive, and physical benefits that set it apart from any other form of pavement pounding — advantages strikingly well suited to the life of a lawyer.
Here’s what you stand to reap when you step up your step count:
1. Slimmer Waistline
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: walking is a win for your waist.
Then again, maybe it’s not so obvious. Yes, walking burns calories, often in a way that feels less taxing to an already over-stressed lawyer. A half-hour of moderately paced walking can burn between 150 and 300 calories. Spread half-hour jaunts throughout the day and you’ve already offset an entrée and a dessert.
But walking goes to war on the waistline in more ways than one, the composite effect of which can prove surprisingly powerful:
- It impairs your body’s weight-promoting genes. A Harvard University health study of more than 12,000 people found that, among those who walked bristly for an hour every day, 32 different obesity-promoting genes were rendered 50% less effective in the body.
- It lessens sugar cravings. Multiple studies have found that even moderate walking (perhaps as little as 15 minutes a day) can reduce cravings for sugary snacks and chocolates, even when those people are engaged in activities that typically induce sugar cravings.
- It aids digestion. Researchers have shown that walking soon after eating stimulates both the stomach and the intestines, speeding up the process of absorption and clearance. This, in turn, promotes satiety and reduces bloating (and heartburn too). And unlike other forms of exercise, walking is unlikely to bring on a stomach cramp.
- It suppresses the glucose response. Walking after a meal can also reduce the insulin spike you might otherwise experience, better regulating both appetite and blood sugar while also protecting your body from a postprandial sugar spike.
2. Enhanced Creative Ideation
Here’s what really makes walking a super power for lawyers: it’s the ultimate engine for your brain. The evidence for this is found in a few different disciplines.
First, there’s the close link between walking and writing. Throughout history, many of the world’s most accomplished writers were known for their habit of taking long strolls. Some even cited it as the cure-all for writer’s block. Noting this, researchers wondered whether there might be a connection between prose and promenade. Sure enough, multiple studies have found a unique brain-chemistry response to walks, especially those outside in nature. A complex concoction of neurons, molecules, and activity within the hippocampus combine to promote new connections between brain cells… and thus new ideas.
When you consider that virtually all forms of practicing law entail writing in one way or another, this historical observation, backed by contemporary research, makes a compelling case for lawyers, who need both the pen and the mind to stay mighty.
But the link between walking and creative ideation has been found to exist outside the writer’s mind too. A landmark study by Stanford University found that an individual’s creative output increases by an astounding 60% while walking.
Could your practice benefit from a 60% boost in creativity? If so, science says it’s as simple as lacing up and stepping out.
3. Lifted Spirits
Having covered the physical and cognitive benefits of walking — both essential to lawyers, who face above-average physical health risks and daily intellectual demands — let us now consider the other prong in the trifecta of lawyerly health that is a daily amble.
The American Psychological Association says that taking a walk may be among the best ways for adults to boost their mental health and ward off depression. 75 minutes of brisk walking each week is enough to reduce the risk of depression by 18%. Double the hours of walking, and you get an extra 7% reduction in risk. In fact, the APA estimates that if every adult were to walk (or otherwise engage in brisk activity) for 150 minutes a week, we could prevent 1 out of every 9 depression cases.
The lawyer well-being benefits of walking appear to be even more pronounced when the walk take place outdoors, especially in green spaces.
Endorphins are one explanation, but there are even bigger-picture rationales at play, experts say. Walking doesn’t only boost mood. It also elevates energy levels, promotes deeper and more consistent sleep, and lessens the daily agitation of join pain. The net effect is enough to make you feel like a brand-new you.
That’s imperative, because studies consistently show us that the current state of well-being for lawyers is utterly abysmal. This is precisely why Florida Lawyers Mutual is partaking in the Institute for Well-Being in Law’s third annual Well-Being Week in Law and adding a whole slew of new resources to our ever-growing Florida Lawyer Well-Being Resource Center.
It’s time that we all stand up and insist on a better mode of life for the human beings who happen to have chosen the noble profession of law as their trade. As it turns out, one way to stand up is to step ahead — into a new era of well-being for lawyers and onto a new path of good health for each of us.
A Look at Nine Different Ways That Walking Promotes Lawyer Well-Being
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