Be Well, 0618 WYBJ, Vol. 41 No. 3. 58

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Be Well

Vol. 41 No. 3 Pg. 58

Wyoming Bar Journal

June, 2018

Summer Time Walk-and-Talks: Easy Steps Towards Happier Lawyering

By June, early summer finally arrives throughout Wyoming. In Cheyenne and Laramie, lilac trees are blooming and late spring snowstorms are a distant memory...for a while. One of my favorite early memories from practicing law in Cheyenne were little neighborhood walks in the month of June, whether walking to get some coffee, running an errand, or just walking a bit at lunch to get out of the office. Most days from my third-story law office I could see Wyoming's Attorney General walking through the neighborhood to the nearby capitol complex.

I wonder if either of us knew that our walks were increasing our happiness as attorneys. I am sure I did not. A walk as short as 20 minutes increases brain activity, restores certain memory functions, and releases endorphins which provide a feel-good response. A walk as short as five minutes is part of something called "attention restoration theory" which is science-speak for the antidote to mental exhaustion.[1] While treadmill walks are good, a short walk outside is better for boosting moods and restoring cognitive functions—both of those being critical components for successful lawyering.

A Culture of Sitting and a Culture of Unhappiness

As a general rule, lawyers sit—a lot. It starts at a young age. We sit all day in school, in college, and then again in law school. In law school, we sit for 60 to 90 minutes per class and again when studying. We sit some more when studying for the bar exam. When we enter practice, we sit at our desks, at conference room tables, and in courtrooms. Occasionally we stand up at a podium.

As discussed in a previous column, sitting is unhealthy.[2] Sitting for six or more hours per day is associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety, even if other physical exercise occurs at other points in the day. Sitting for prolonged periods also increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancers, and cardiovascular disease.

Another predominant trend in the practice of law is a high rate of depression, anxiety, chronic...

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