Exercise: Therapy to Work-Induced Stress

As a legal professional, it is necessary to include exercise in our daily life.  Juggling administrative tasks, multiple client matters, business meetings, counseling clients, and researching and drafting papers while managing the growth of your practice is not only time consuming, but can also lead to work-induced stress, which may cause you psychological and physical illness (i.e., musculoskeletal pain, anxiety and depression).  Physical exercise has long been linked to not only improving physical condition and appearance, but is also vital in fighting disease and reducing or eliminating daily stress and anxiety.

At times, it may seem that work-induced stress will remain a constant factor in your life, at least for as long as you are practicing law; after all, it is part of the job, right?  It does not have to be the case though; the realization that you are in control of your life, being accountable for your emotions, actions and decisions and engaging in a regular dose of exercise coupled with the right nutrition can be your solution to stress management.

Stress and anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults and are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S.  Engaging in regular exercise can assist in managing stress and anxiety in a natural, quick and effective way.  Even a short 15 minute walk helps to elevate your mood and deliver hours of stress relief, more so than taking an aspirin or any other pain reliever.

Studies have conclusively found that regular exercise decreases overall levels of tension, improves sleep, elevates self-esteem and positively alters one’s mood and attitude.  Exercise also improves mental health by acting as a therapeutic means to cope better with stress.  The most recent federal guidelines for adults recommend at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (i.e., speed walking) each week, 1 ¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (i.e., jogging or swimming or other aerobic exercise), or a combination of both.[1]

Whether it is the constant pressure to meet deadlines, lack of adequate assistance from your colleagues or otherwise, it is important to identify the sources of stress at work in order to be able to manage them properly.  Once you are aware of your daily stressors, you can increase your resistance to stress by adopting a healthy lifestyle through physical exercise.  Exercising daily plays a key role in reducing and preventing stress.  For those of you that do not believe they have enough time in the day to exercise, just remember that a one hour workout is only 4% of your day. Becoming healthy may just be the best decision you ever make!

[1] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG), April 10, 2015, http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/default.aspx.  The PAG recommendations complement the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as well as other national health promotion and disease prevention efforts.