Cut Back Stress? Don’t Exercise?

A strange case of counter-intuiutive observations on Lawyers Weekly today:

“Exercise can exacerbate the stress levels of lawyers in high-pressure roles and lead to burnout, the banking & finance group at Herbert Smith Freehills has discovered.

HSF corporate finance partner Erin Wakelin (pictured) invited a health expert to the firm yesterday (29 July) to advise her team on how to manage the stresses of legal practice by setting achievable exercise and nutrition goals.

In a talk entitled Debunking myths and making healthier choices, Nathan Hauville, a trainer with Better Being Executive, told the HSF lawyers that exercise is a stressor that has the same effect on the body as work-related stress.

“Exercise is a stress response [and] the body doesn’t differentiate between stresses,” he said. “If we’re skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, [then] each time we add stress through exercise … stress is going to continue us down the path to burnout.”

He urged the lawyers to ensure exercise in enjoyable. “The focus should be about doing what we love.”

The HSF lawyers on billable hours were delighted to hear Hauville’s claim that just one hour of exercise each week is all that is required to achieve health benefits, as long as the heart is beating at around 80 percent of the individual’s maximum heart rate.

After that welcome tidbit, Hauville asked the lawyers to stand up and perform a series of “desk exercises”, including one called the Merv Hughes, which mimics the famed cricketer’s warm-up stretches.

Another of Hauville’s well-received pieces of advice was: “Don’t be afraid of the fats.”

A HSF lawyer queried the nutritional value of pork belly, but Hauville gave the natural fat the green light, along with various oils, fish and meat products.

“Natural foods won’t have that stress response on the body that man-made foods do,” he added.