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Forget about 10,000 steps

The legal sector, known for stress and long hours, often limits movement. Being active improves physical fitness and significantly boosts mental health. 

We've got some simple steps you can take to move more each day for better mental health.

Steps MHAW 2024 Bruno Nascimento Unsplash

Move more for your mental health

The legal sector is well known for being stressful and sedentary, characterised by long working hours in a high-pressure environment. This often makes it difficult to find time to get up from your desk and move about.

We all know that we should be active as it helps us stay physically fit, but it also has huge benefits for our mental health. Engaging in more movement and exercise can significantly reduce stress, boost your mood, improve sleep quality, and enhance concentration.

This Mental Health Awareness Week we urge everyone to commit to taking small steps and making simple changes to move more each day for better mental health. We’re not just talking about sport and exercise; rather, moving more involves making modest but consistent changes that enhance your daily activity levels.

Put simply, if you move more, you are likely to feel better. When you move and are active, your body releases hormones that can improve your mood and boost our energy. You may find that you have:

  • Better mental health - Research has shown that movement and physical activity can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, control stress, and improve your overall mood.
  • Better concentration - Regular exercise enhances cognitive functions, making it easier to concentrate and maintain prolonged mental stamina.
  • Increased energy levels – Physical activity can reduce feelings of fatigue, improve the quality of your sleep, and can enable you to be more productive at work and at home.

Want to know more about how what happens in your brain when you exercise?  Watch this short video from Flow Neuroscience. 

Simple steps you can take today

We know that finding time for regular movement and exercise can be challenging when you work long hours and have a busy schedule. We have some small and simple steps to help get you our of the starting blocks.

Start small. You don't need to run a marathon or climb a mountain; start with small changes today and try to make them part of your daily routine.

  1. Take the stairs when you can, or simply try to stand up more during the day. Could you take your next phone call standing up or even whilst you are taking a short walk?
  2. Place the items you need during your workday (like water, snacks or even the printer) slightly out of reach so have to get up and move more frequently.
  3. Take short active breaks every hour to stretch or walk around. Some fitness trackers and apps let you set a reminder to move regularly, and you may find this motivating (or massively annoying).
  4. Put some music on that makes you move (groove). Have a 3 minute bop next time you’re making a hot drink.
  5. Take your lunch break and use part of it to move about. This could be a 15-minute brisk walk or even a short exercise session. There are some online workout classes and videos aimed at people wanting a short burst of movement during their lunch break. Make sure you leave time to eat too.
  6. If you commute, can you include physical activity as part of this? Could you walk or go by bike? Alternatively, park further away or get off public transport a few stops early to incorporate walking into your commute.
  7. Schedule exercise: Once you’ve decided what you are going to do and when you are going to do it, put it in your calendar and stick to it. It’s so easy to cancel and feel the time would be better spent catching up on emails or getting ahead after hours while the phone isn’t ringing. The thing is, there is always more work to do. You’re generally more productive and less likely to make a mistake if you allow yourself time to switch off.
  8. Do you work (or live) with other people who would also like to move more. You could start or join a group workout with colleagues or sign up for a fitness challenge. They may be able to motivate you even when you find it hard to motivate yourself.
  9. Try to leave the building and go into the great outdoors. See if you can find somewhere where there is a bit of greenery. If you live and work in a built-up area, see if you can find a park or garden nearby where you can move around and take time away from your desk. If you aren’t needed on a call, try to switch your phone off.
  10. If you work from home, it can be harder to get motivated and get moving. However, you can more easily make changes to your work environment, and you may feel less self-conscious about doing a few stretches/shoulder rolls or moving about when you are on a call.

"Making small changes to move more each day can have big benefits."

Legal firms and organisations should support these changes because they help improve mental health, brain function, and productivity. Additionally, encouraging physical activity can boost team spirit, make people feel happier at work, and increase job satisfaction, which can help keep employees around longer.

When law firms focus on the mental health of their staff, they not only create a better place to work but also attract and keep top talent. Promoting movement and exercise is not just about physical health; it's about creating a better quality of life and a supportive, vibrant work environment.

We're here to listen...without judgement

Contact our free, confidential, emotional support service for the legal sector
0800 279 6888
Email our support team support@lawcare.org.uk

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