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Simple steps for taking care of your body, even in law school

Exercising Students

With all the stresses of law school, your physical wellbeing might not get much attention. Here are some tips for taking care of your body while you’re in the thick of the law school grind:

Start small to form a habit

Ashley Schell, a personal trainer and graduate student at the George Washington University, says “the first step is deciding you want to do it.” Law students might have smaller windows of time for exercise. Figure out what time you do have and commit to using that. For example, Susie McCarthy, Schell’s colleague and the Manager of Recreation and Fitness at George Washington, says that taking a few minutes to step away from the library and take a walk with classmates will help you see the subject you’re studying from a fresh perspective.

Schell says, “The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do.”

Find a sport or activity you can do consistently

Often when starting out “people get overwhelmed with their options,” Schell says. When she begins working with a student, she talks with them about sports they used to participate in and interests in activities they might like to try. Schell takes new clients through a little bit of everything and pays attention to what they like.

In law school, I stayed active on my journal’s intramural basketball team. I found the time because it was an activity I already enjoyed, and the games were between 9 and 11pm, a good fit for a student.

Schell says that with so many options available, finding something you like is the best way to make sure you maintain your routine during school and as you start your career.

Work on your ergonomic habits, too

Melissa Afterman is a Certified Professional Ergonomist, who works with the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, a collaboration among University of California schools. She also provides virtual assessments and consulting for home offices. “A lot of people think as long as you’re exercising, that’s enough,” she says. But your work and study habits could be working against the progress you make in the gym.

Afterman says students aren’t going to eliminate every risky factor in their study environment, but “pick three things you think you can do today and try them.” For her top three, she recommends using an external mouse and monitor with your laptop to open up your posture, taking a short break once an hour, and not facing a window when you’re on a tablet or computer to avoid eye fatigue.

Make time for healthy habits even when you’re busiest

When we are in what we feel is a temporary situation, like finals, the bar exam, or even law school itself, it’s easy to skip healthy habits like sleep and exercise. But Afterman says the stress you put on your body now can make you more susceptible to injury in the future. “What you do to it today impacts what happens years from now,” she says.