The new mantra is fitness. It is the buzz word amongst the business elite, the filmy people, the celebrities and indeed everyone who is a person of reckoning. As lawyers and judges, we are more the objects of public gaze, as performers of cerebral arts through speaking and writing. We work at home, at the chambers, in the car and in the courts. There is a whole range of people of diverse ages, the young, middle aged and the old; the galloping types, the slithering ones and the slow paced; the persons who traverse the corridors in ones, twos and in a multitude. Whoever you are and whichever category that you belong, ask yourself these questions: Do you scowl at the folks at home when you return after a hard day’s work? Do you refuse to be drawn into any fun game with your young son or daughter? Do you scorch your clients with harsh words, for his query-some concerns about when his case is likely to be disposed of? If your answer is yes to any of the questions, it is time to shift gear.
Our profession calls for indefatigable energy. The successful ones are the persons who carry on their lives with abundance of cheer. You will find more successful lawyers in a club playing bridge or rummy than any other professional. Music sabhas will have a fair sprinkling of our genre as office bearers than persons of any other calling. They are better public speakers than many other persons pursuing different avocations. Successful persons of law are those who carry a brisk life style, with healthy body and mind. Antacid chewing lawyers are getting side-lined! The winsome countenance belongs to the healthier among the men in black. Recreation and regular exercise bring the sheen to this admirable brand of people. Don’t merely rest with what physical activity that the walking in the court corridors compel you to do. Set apart some time for exercise and physical activity outside the court milieu. Some texts describe ‘physical activity as an inclusive term that refers to any expenditure of energy brought about by bodily movement via the skeletal muscles; as such, it includes the complete spectrum of activity from very low resting levels to maximal exertion. Exercise is a component of physical activity. The distinguishing characteristic of exercise is that it is a structured activity specifically planned to develop and maintain physical fitness. Physical conditioning refers to the development of physical fitness through the adaptation of the body and its various systems to an exercise programme’.
The greatest benefit of a regular exercise programme is an improvement in overall fitness. Appropriate exercise improves muscular strength and endurance, body composition, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory endurance. You do not get fatigued fast. You will have learnt the art of walking from court to court without complaining. You will have greater lung power not to be caught short of breath. You will not be on edge when you are asked the most inconvenient question, or when your opponent is delivering the most untenable arguments. All this is not to suggest that you become a saint by being fit but you will have attained to a level of coping with minor aberrations that accompany all our lives. If you do not mind a little technical detail, ‘a middle-aged person who exercises regularly will have a maximal aerobic power 10 to 12 times resting, so a 4 km per hour walk will represent only 25 to 30 percent of maximal capacity. Any sub-maximal task is relatively much easier for the conditioned individual. A person cannot work throughout the day at much more than about 20 percent of maximal capacity without becoming chronically fatigued. The de-conditioned person who has a maximal aerobic power of six times resting can comfortably sustain a work level of only about 1.2 times resting throughout the day (6 x 0.20 = 1.2). This low capability for sustained energy expenditure can support only a very sedentary existence: for example, 20 hours of sleep and rest, two hours of personal care, one hour of housework and shopping, and one hour of activity at three times the resting rate each day’. Different types of fitness may be important not only to different individuals but also to the same individual at different times. When you were young and in college, participating in a completion was what could have been your focus. The typical middle-aged individual is not as likely to be concerned about athletic success, as with general health. Characteristics of health-related physical fitness is only partly determined by genetic factors and inheritance but profoundly influenced by exercise habits.
In court and at your chambers, keep a constant self appraisal about how you sit, how you walk, how you stand and how you speak. Sitting erect is not the correct sitting posture, contrary to the commonly held opinion. This erect sitting posture cannot be maintained for more than one or two minutes and usually results in fatigue, discomfort and poor posture. It is slightly bent-over position, such as when you are lying on your side while sleeping, which is appropriate. A seat that tilts forward encourages this natural posture. Opposing muscle groups are balanced and the lumbar curve is preserved producing balanced seating in which the back is straight, the joint angles are open and the muscles are relaxed. This position provides greater mobility and relieves pressure on the lungs and stomach. While standing for argument, stand on both legs. Don’t stand up straight or slump over the small wooden stool placed on the horse-shoe table. A poised stance is when your legs are positioned about a foot wide and look facing the person whom you are addressing. And about your voice level, keep it to a comfortable pitch that does not strain your vocal cords and make you cough. Adopt a tone that is appropriate for the occasion. Anger, reprimand, jest, seriousness and light banter have all their space and relevance. None of these emotions require raising the voice.
Are you ready now? Get, set, go…