6 Tips to Stay Fit at Your Firm
Everyone knows that working long hours at a desk, neglecting regular exercise, and eating on-the-go are not the best strategies to stay fit and healthy. I’m sure you’ve been advised to work out three times a week and to get up from your desk once an hour to get a drink of water—unfortunately, these tips are not enough. Since you’re a lawyer, you already know how to be skeptical. The trick is to apply this skepticism to the many health tips that are shamelessly bandied about in the world today. Are three half-hour workouts a week really enough to counter forty or more hours of sitting? Is getting up for a drink once an hour really stretching my muscles and raising my heart?
In a perfect world, you would be able to spend an hour or two at the gym every day, cook all of your own meals, and then still have time for that hour-long yoga class you’ve been eager to try. But you are a lawyer, and as all lawyers know—the world (and the practice of law) are anything but perfect.
Searching for ways to stay fit at work, while still getting all of your work done, and having time for that weekly happy hour? Here’s are a few tips on to redefine your day:
(1) Take shorter breaks at more frequent intervals
Instead of getting up once every hour for five minutes (as is often recommended), get up once every twenty minutes for one minute. If you wait too long before getting up and moving, your body will “shut down” and enter a stiff, lethargic state.
Getting up every twenty minutes, even for just one minute, is like telling your body: “Hey, don’t stiffen up on me, don’t fall asleep on me—I need you to remain limber and ready for action.”
To remind myself to get up and move, I use StandApp which reminds me every few minutes to get on my feet and do a brief exercise with the time I have. Another incredible app is Backache. Not too savvy with the latest technology? There’s no substitute for that old-fashioned kitchen egg-timer—when you hear that loud buzz, you’ll be sure to get up and move.
(2) During your breaks, make sure you actually move.
I won’t start romanticizing on our hunter-gatherer pasts, but our bodies have evolved to participate in strenuous labor. While it is great to grab a drink of water, your body craves more than that.
When your precious one-minute break comes around, do something a bit more stimulating. Touch your toes twenty times, close your office door and do ten lunges, simulate squats by sitting down and standing up twenty times at your chair.
You get the idea.
(3) Go to the gym during lunch instead of after work.
In tandem with the tips above, it is important to regularly reset your body from sedentary activity. If you go to the gym during your lunch break, you come back to work refreshed and alert. On the other hand, if you wait all day to go to the gym, it will take a much longer workout to break your body out of that sedentary state.
It doesn’t matter if a lunch workout is short in duration. Workouts offer a diminishing margin of return. If you have an intense workout, most of the benefits can be achieved within fifteen minutes. Working out for an hour versus twenty minutes does not produce three times the benefit.
Find a gym relatively close to your office and go as often as you possibly can.
(4) Buy a wireless mouse and keyboard.
Your body does not like to be static and frozen in one position, especially if it’s an awkward, unnatural position. If you use a mouse and/or a keyboard which is attached to the computer with a wire, your body will be restricted to a much more narrow range of movement.
Our bodies evolved to partake in a wide array of physical activities throughout the day. A wireless mouse and keyboard allow your body’s movements to be less repetitive and more natural. You can rest the mouse and the keyboard, however best suits you.
The fact that they are wireless guarantees that your body will be exposed to a much wider variety of movements as you read cases, write briefs and memoranda, and send emails to clients.
I use a wireless mouse and keyboard from Logitech, and I love them.
(5) Pretend like you were living thirty years ago.
Thirty years ago we were of course, much less reliant on computers than we are today. As a lawyer today, your entire universe resides on the computer—you read cases online, send letters online, and write everything on Microsoft Word. It wasn’t like this.
To read a case, a lawyer had to walk to the library, bend down and pick up a hefty casebook, sitting down at a different desk and in a different chair and read the case.
To communicate with a colleague in the same office, a lawyer had to walk to his friend’s office, rather than shooting him a quick email. While seemingly insignificant, these small bursts of activity are highly beneficial for the body. So consider printing out your case and reading it in a conference room. If you need to speak with a colleague, interacting with them physically versus virtually. Be creative.
(6) Buy a sit-down stand-up desk.
In order to stay fit, ideally you’d invest in a treadmill desk, but not everyone can work for enlightened companies like Google or Apple. Some of us still have that crusty old boss, who threatens to fire you on the spot if you’re caught flailing your arms on such a “contraption” in his office.
Standing desks are only half of the battle to stay fit; it is not so healthy to stand all day either. Sit-down stand-up desks are the “happy medium” approach. I bought an Ergotron desk from Amazon, along with a cushy anti-fatigue mat to stand on—both were wonderful investments.
In embracing this lifestyle, you will be amazed at how much better your body looks and feels. Make sure to stay hydrated and diligent. Every change made to your daily routine will positively impact your attitude, health, and performance at work.
Steve Weinberg is an attorney who has significant litigation experience and specializes in Personal Injury defense. For two years, he practiced law in a small insurance defense firm in Philadelphia.