I n a profession that can be largely sedentary the importance of regular movement should not be underestimated. Research in the last decade has identified that inactivity, e.g., sitting, for long periods can contribute to a range of impacts – biomechanical (e.g., tight hips, back problems), metabolic (e.g., increased risk of clots, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease) and mental (depression, anxiety). In some media it has been likened to a ‘silent killer’.
The Wellbeing Committee encourages and promotes physical activity by members through a range of initiatives. Some of the current programs are described below. They encompass a wide variety of levels of activity and are designed to be inclusive, and to foster collegiality to combat the isolation that sometimes comes with practice at the Bar.
Members – please join your colleagues and reap the benefits of regular movement.
Bar Walking Group
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, most members started working from home. The shift to a home-based practice meant increased isolation for members and the loss of interpersonal interaction. Soon after, the Wellbeing Committee started the Walking Group – a group designed to enhance interaction in the open air (thus, more safely) and to promote healthy practices.
Every Monday, at 1:05pm, members meet at the fountains at the top of Martin Place for a brisk walk around the Botanic Gardens. The group leaves at 1:10pm sharp and does a loop around Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and back to Martin Place, returning at about 1:45pm. Especially during the warmer months, a hat and sunscreen are recommended. Walking shoes or sneakers are also recommended. When Castle SC takes the lead, the group moves at a cracking pace. Marginally slower, but still exhilarating, with Pritchard SC at the helm.
Over the past year, the Walking Group has attracted a dedicated list of regulars. It has also attracted readers and junior barristers, and barristers who still work from home, with new faces appearing most weeks.
The Walking Group provides an opportunity for camaraderie and exercise every Monday. For queries contact Dauid Sibtain SC at email@example.com .
Bar Bushwalking Group
A new initiative for 2021, the Bar Bushwalking Group offers members the opportunity to get out of chambers and to experience the best that nature has to offer. The response has been overwhelming.
Planned walks in 2021 comprise Manly Dam in May (which was booked out), the Royal National Park in August and the Sassafras Gully Loop at Springwood in the Blue Mountains in November.
See the article by Robert White on page 72 for an in-depth report from the Manly Dam walk. Enquiries and bookings can be directed to Tim Castle SC at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bar Football Club (Bar FC) has been an outlet for devotees of ‘The Beautiful Game’ for many years. It is also one of the largest, by member participation, with some 80 members in 2020.
Each year, Bar FC competes in the Domain Soccer League as well as a Tri State Competition against teams from the Queensland and Victorian Bar.
In 2021, after starting with a couple of narrow losses, Bar FC bounced back strongly with a 5-nil drubbing of Schroders FC. Since then, the team has traded narrow losses and wins through late May to mid-June. At the midpoint of the season, Bar FC sits in the middle of Division 1, but seems to be gaining momentum.
The competition can be variable, but the enthusiasm and camaraderie is always strong.
Bar FC caters to players of all abilities, and welcomes new players – who often become regulars. For information contact Anthony Lo Surdo at email@example.com , David Stanton at firstname.lastname@example.org or Simon Philips at email@example.com .
Bar Running Group
The Bar has always had a small group of dedicated distance runners, with a team entered each year in the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon.
At the end of 2020, the Wellbeing Committee formed Bar Running Group to encourage wider participation by members, on a regular basis.
Each Thursday, at 4.30pm, members meet at the top of Martin Place on Macquarie Street, adjacent to the Reserve Bank Building. The Group leaves at 4.35pm and jogs down Macquarie Street, around the Opera House and Farm Cove, returning via Art Gallery Road to Queens Square. The runs finish generally by 5.10pm.
Runners and joggers of all ability levels are welcome – we make sure no one runs alone. For those who would like to extend their run, there is that option as well. The run can also be combined with a swim at Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton pool. In the lead-up to significant events, such as the SMH Half, there is also the possibility of additional training runs.
Beyond organised events, members are also encouraged to participate in Parkrun, a free, timed, weekly 5km run (or walk) at hundreds of courses in Australia and overseas. Join the NSW Bar Running Group via the Parkrun website.
In addition to the significant health benefits to individuals, the running activities also provide an opportunity for members to contribute to wellbeing initiatives more widely. The Wellbeing Committee encourages and facilitates fundraising support by the Bar to make significant contributions to mental health and wellbeing initiatives each year. This year, donations for members running the SMH Half support the Black Dog Institute.
For information, contact Turvey To at firstname.lastname@example.org . Your interest can also be registered on the NSW Bar website at https://nswbar.asn.au/practice-support/wellbeing/five-ways-to-wellbeing/bar-walking-and-running-groups (sign-in required).
As this article is being finalised, Sydney has entered its second lockdown, for at least 14 days. Most organised activities, including outdoor activities involving more than 10 people, have been cancelled. Now, more than ever, the physical and mental resilience of members are being tested. Members are encouraged to stay active, and reach out to each other to seek, or provide, support. BarCare also remains available to members that may need more specialist assistance. Contact Jenny Houen at email@example.com or on 0427 317 958.
- e.g., Biswas A, Oh PI, Faulkner GE et al. 'Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis'. Ann Intern Med . 2015; 162(2):123–132; Pandey A, Salahuddin U, Garg S et al. 'Continuous dose–response association between sedentary time and risk for cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis'. JAMA Cardiol. 2016; 1(5):575–583; Zhai L, Zhang Y, Zhang D. 'Sedentary behaviour and the risk of depression: a meta-analysis'. Br J Sports Med . 2015; 49(11):705–709.