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Each region puts on a Walk for Mental Health event which this year will be held on Sunday the 16 October between 10:30am-12:30pm. Participants can choose to walk either 3km, 5km or 10km. This is a great way to connect with others and get some exercise! Positive practices and mindsets improve our lives and are essential to developing successful careers. Studies show that exercise promotes physical, mental, and brain health.

We know exercise is good for us but why? ACC Docket columnist Caterina Cavallaro summarises some findings from her recent articles and some additional suggestions to get you moving and motivated.

  • Studies show that exercise promotes physical, mental and brain health.  Combining exercise and nature is even more effective - people performed better in demanding mental tasks after 30 minutes walking in nature compared with those who walked in an urban environment. 
  • Japanese studies into shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) showed that spending time in forest environments promoted lower concentrations of cortisol, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity than people in urban environments.  
  • The American Psychological Association has curated some of the research and considers how "exercise, a form of physical stress, can help the body manage general stress levels" – they say that “while exercise initially spikes the stress response in the body, people experience lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine after bouts of physical activity”.   Experts also believe routine exercise is “as powerful in treating anxiety and mood disorders as antidepressants” and also has a positive cascading effect on other healthy habits like eating well, sleeping and socialising. 
  • Wallace J Nichols book, Blue Minds, summarises research on how aquatic exercise improves fitness and also respiratory endurance beyond "dry aerobics".
  • Three neuroscientists and professors who discuss the benefits of exercise in an accessible way are:
    • Professor Selena Bartlett PhD in her book, Smashing Mindsets, says "You have to exercise every day". She mentions extensive research showing "exercise keeps the brain and body fit" and has been shown to "reduce stress responses and inflammation". In episode 80 of her podcast, Thriving Minds, Dr Bartlett speaks with Dr Tara Walker about how exercise helps us remember better and extends our lifespan. If you think you are too old, too injured or too anything to start a new exercise routine, this is also a great discussion on how to build up your training. The Smashing Mindsets book also includes practical ways to get started.  
    • Professor Wendy Suzuki PhD studies the effects of exercise on the brain, including how it decreases feelings of anxiety, improves focus and concentration, promotes the growth of new brain cells, and protects the brain from ageing and neurodegenerative diseases. She says she tries to do "at least three to four 30-minute workout sessions a week. You'll also get the most benefits out of aerobic exercise which increases the heart rate and pumps more oxygen into the brain".
    • Professor Andrew Huberman PhD speaks extensively in most of his Huberman Lab podcasts and his Instagram page about the benefits of getting up early and exercising within three hours of waking and getting sunlight in your eyes - again layering some excellent habits. He podcasts discussing the benefits of exercise including discussions with Dr Wendy Suzuki, Dr Andy Galpin (on how to build strength and muscle), Jeff Cavaliere (on optimising your exercise program with science-based tools) as well an episode on how and why to stretch!

Looking for inspiration? Read my article about the daily habits and exercise routines fellow lawyers and GCs (Freya Smith, Chad Aboud, Catriona McGregor, Michelle Bryant, Teresa Cleary, Kate Jones FGIA) do to help them sustain their successful careers such as:

🏃🏼 starting the day with a run

☀️mid-morning walks to get some sunshine

🚶🏾introducing walking meetings into a day of too many Zoom calls

🌳 running in the woods

So sign up and get involved!  It should be a great day to get out and walk in some beautiful nature based locations - whether you are using it to get your daily steps in, you want to use it to train build for a bigger goal, or you want to connect with others and share your positive practices it will be a great day out. 

ACC In-House In Health and Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Special Interest Groups. 


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