Health

The Importance of Staying Physically Active


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  • We know that exercise is good for our health, but why is it good for us, exactly? What does it do for us?
  • Physical activity improves mental health, increases energy, and helps to reduce risks for a long list of diseases
  • Don’t be intimidated by exercise; it doesn’t have to be difficult or take a lot of time. Just do it!

None of us are unfamiliar with the idea that physical exercise, and just moving around in general, is good for our health.

It’s understandable, though, when we just want to veg out on the couch for a few hours after working a 70-hour week (even though most of us spend an inordinate amount of time sitting hunched over a desk). So we often end up putting off regular exercise while knowing full well we should do it if we want to remain healthy. But do you know why it’s so important to stay active? What exactly does physical activity do for you?

Mental Health

Exercise is a natural mood booster and stress reliever. When you take a brisk walk, bike ride, or dance class, you stimulate brain chemicals that lift your mood and lower anxiety—very important results for those living the lawyer life. Physical activity can also raise your self esteem and make you feel more confident. In addition, exercise promotes better sleep quality by helping you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, while lower quality sleep contributes to mental fatigue and depression.

Energy

Working as a lawyer takes a lot of stamina, often requiring long hours that can easily drain your energy if you don’t take proper care of your body. Eating well and sleeping enough are key, but don’t overlook the role of exercise in keeping your energy up. Being physically active not only increases your muscle strength and endurance, but also helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. All of that adds up to helping you feel more energetic and giving you the boost you need to get through your day, no matter if you’re running errands, enjoying an active vacation, or working for a hectic 14 hours.

Reduced Disease Risk

There is no question that exercise can help reduce your risk of developing many chronic conditions, as well as improve those conditions for people who already have them. The list of diseases and conditions that can be prevented or improved by staying active is long:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity

Don’t Be Intimidated

Now, one reason why people—especially busy people—struggle to get enough exercise is not only because of the time commitment.

For those of us who are not exactly athletes, beginning an exercise program can be intimidating. Have you ever felt that way?

But it doesn’t have to be! Exercise can be simple and consist of things that are easy to do, like taking a brisk walk or quick bike ride. It’s also cumulative, so you don’t have to exercise for long, drawn-out stretches of time to benefit.

You can take a daily 15-minute walk during lunch, climb the stairs in your apartment building for 5 minutes twice a day on most days, and use free weights at home for half an hour two or three days a week, and you’ll be doing exactly what you need to do for your health. Note that none of these actions involves a huge time commitment, necessitates buying expensive gear, or requires anything particularly difficult. All you need to do is get moving to stave off a host of preventable diseases and reap the benefits of being an active person.

What's Next

Over the next month, slowly add physical activity to your days. Take a walk during lunch, get off a few subway stops earlier than you need to when you go to work in the morning, and take the stairs when you can.