Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

A Few Hours of Gardening Can Grow Your Practice

Great news for all you sedentary legal professionals who want to make wellness a priority but can’t bear the thought of going to the gym.

It seems that tiptoeing through the tulips is as beneficial as pumping iron – and it will result in a lovelier view outside your window.

That’s the conclusion of a long-term, collaborative study on the beneficial effects of leisure-time physical activity, which can include things like working in your garden, dancing, and strolling around your neighborhood.

Scientists worldwide – including a team in Charlotte – followed more than 88,000 people from 1997 to 2008. They found that people who engaged in a mere 10 to 59 minutes of activity a week reduced their risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer by more than 18 percent. Those who pushed themselves harder and longer – working their bodies from 150 to 299 minutes each week – experienced a 31 percent decrease in all-cause mortality.

Read the study here.

Take it From Southern Living

None of this – especially the part about the benefits of gardening – came as a surprise to Southern Living magazine.

“Gardening has been previously linked to positive health changes,” according to this Southern Living article.A big meta-review of previous studies found that gardening is linked to a decrease in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, along with increases in quality of life, life satisfaction, and a sense of community. Gardening has also been linked to huge benefits for the elderly, citing a reduction in falls, reduction in stress, and even reduced need for medications.”

The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking, mowing the lawn, swimming) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (running, aerobic dancing, cycling) a week, or a combination of the two.

  • Greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefit.
  • The recommendations include strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
  • Reducing sitting time is important, too. The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of medical problems, even if you get the required physical activity.

3 Things Your Firm Can Do

Here are four recommendations from the ABA’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being:

  1. Form a Lawyer Well-Being Committee or appoint a Well-Being Advocate. The advocate or committee should be responsible for evaluating the work environment, identifying and addressing policies and procedures that create the greatest mental distress among employees, identifying how best to promote a positive state of well-being, and tracking progress of well-being strategies. They should prepare key milestones, communicate them, and create accountability strategies. They also should develop strategic partnerships with lawyer assistance programs and other well-being experts and stay abreast of developments in the profession and relevant literature.
  1. Assess the health of your team. Legal employers should consider continually assessing the state of well-being among lawyers and staff and whether workplace cultures support well-being. An assessment strategy might include an anonymous survey conducted to measure lawyer and staff attitudes and beliefs about well-being, stressors in the firm that significantly affect well-being, and organizational support for improving well-being in the workplace. Attitudes are formed not only by an organization’s explicit messages but also implicitly by how leaders and lawyers actually behave.
  1. Don’t overlook emotional and mental health. Create a culture of awareness, prevention, and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. Model healthy behaviors. Be alert to signs of distress. Show empathy to lawyers who are struggling. Suggest improvements to support wellbeing. Don’t stigmatize substance use and mental health disorders. Come up with policies to assist anyone who needs help, such as seeking treatment or taking time off. Reduce the reliance on alcohol at office events. Communicate an attitude of caring.


What activities keep you physically and emotionally healthy?

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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