Physical Fitness & Investing

Does staying fit help in anyway to become a good investor?

I was listening to a very honest interview, with Mikael Syding, a former hedge fund manager from Sweden. What struck me the most about this interview, were not just his thoughts on investing but also about fitness.

I have always had this curiosity if there is a co-relation between staying physically fit & being a good investor. I was intrigued to know what the answer was when the interviewer asked this specific question to him.

Here’s what Mikael had to say,

Physical fitness is not important for me, it just is. The brain’s thinking has evolved from analysing motion. Thinking is moving & moving is thinking. Staying healthy, may not be important for an analyst / a trader, but as a human, living is being healthy.

I don’t think he said something profound. He just states the fact that we will miss being healthy only when we are not. From my experience, I can state that there’s nothing more important than having a constant stream of energy all day long, like a live wire, flowing through your body, which helps us to focus, learn and comprehend better. As an analyst / investor I can’t ask for anything beyond this from my body / mind.

Also from what I have observed, it is not too difficult to achieve this state. And yes, it doesn’t involve spending an hour and a half in the gym everyday, sweating next to ten other people and admiring your triceps in the mirror. All it needs is an awareness of what we’re eating & how much we’re moving each day.

Some simple tricks have helped me manage my energy better, without having to alter my daily schedule too much.

Using technology:
The biggest problem in exercise is not time, nor is motivation, but simply lack of action. We tend to use time as an excuse to not gear up and exercise. And most of the time we expect that if I’m not spending at least an hour on exercising, it’s not worth the effort. Even if we do find the time, due to lack of knowledge of what type of exercise will help us stay fit, the motivation dies down very fast.

We can’t be more wrong.

I’d personally like to challenge you to find at least 15 mins in your daily schedule to just move. We can perhaps find these 15 mins while watching our favourite TV shows everyday. 15 mins of interval training will leave you gasping for breath & will make you wonder what made you hope for an hour long exercise.

All of us have smartphones. Download apps like Nike+ Training Club (iOS / Android) to find out what type of beginner / intermediate / advanced exercises you can do. There are at least a 100 different combinations of exercises we can try from this app alone, for different time slots ranging from 5 mins to 45 mins. (image source: iTunes Store)Variety of Exercises Guidance for exercises

The app also helps us learn more about correct form (how to exercise without injuring ourselves) by showing videos for each exercise.

Personalised exercises based on need Record activity

I urge you to explore the app store to find which other app might suit your needs. You can chose other activities to move, like simply walking, running, cycling, swimming or whatever you think that works best for you. There’s no limit to what physical activity you can choose to stay fit.Sharing activity with friends

 

The social angle associated with these apps / even the activity tracking softwares in our phones can helps us stay on our goal by making our friends monitor our exercise. A simple nudge from a trusted friend to get back to exercise is also enough.

Learning more about the gut & the brain:
No matter how much research has gone into it, nutrition has still not reached the level of being called a science. So it is very important to follow some basic guidelines while learning what to eat to stay fit.

– Firstly, get an appointment with your doctor to understand your dietary needs.
– Use statistics for your advantage by sampling your nutrient levels over a year (one test in every quarter). We tune up our vehicles each year, it’s time we also learn to tune up our bodies.
– Once we have the data, sit with the doctor to optimise our food intake (only if you feel the lack of energy, or a feeling of drowsiness or have frequent trouble concentrating)

These books can certainly help us to learn more about the effect of exercise and good eating habits on our thinking. (It is worth exploring this category to find ideas to suit your needs)
Brain Maker, eating healthy

Brain Maker: The power gut microbes to heal & protect your brain – for life by Dr. David Perlmutter Spark, importance of exercise on thinking
Spark! How exercise will improve the performance of your brain by Dr. John Ratey

Learn to cook:
Learn to cookIt does take a lot of time to stand in the kitchen & cook. If we are serious to learn about what we eat, there’s no better way than learning to cook. Apart from understanding trends in the prices of retail food commodities, it will also help in finding better ingredients and better combinations of healthy foods. Who said that if it always tastes bad you can at least call it health food.

Fortunately the regular Indian diet is rich in a variety of nutrients but sometimes a particular diet might have it’s own deficiencies which can be easily overcome by adding a new food item from time to time. Learning to cook helps to keep nutrition habits simple & we learn to appreciate what we eat even when we are not cooking ourselves.

All this may not help you become a better investor, but it will certainly help in staying fit & energised to become a better investor. It takes time & the results don’t show up immediately, but just like investing, the process is more important than short term outcomes.

About Raunak Onkar

Raunak Onkar heads the Research department at PPFAS Mutual Fund. He started his career at PPFAS as part of his internship during MBA. He holds an MMS (Finance) degree from the University of Mumbai.

4 thoughts on “Physical Fitness & Investing

  1. Varun Prakash

    Agree on the above. one more good book, which I used is ‘Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight’ by Rujuta Diwekar. It focuses more on our eating habits and lifestyle than on exercising.

    Reply
  2. Manish Hinger

    Thanks for the awesome explanation. However, Staying fit can be divided into three main areas: exercise, eating well and getting sufficient sleep. By balancing out exercise and nutrition, you get better sleep and can do a better job every day.

    Reply
  3. Shailesh

    The idea is not to view exercise as an independent activity & see it more like a how to include it in the daily routine or lifestyle.
    Typically, exercise is good & really helpful if one is training for any specific sporting goal. For normal people, doing Yoga & Pranayam is really what is required. This helps to get flexibility in the body which is very much required as one ages. Also, it helps to increase concentration, & required calmness required for one’s mind.

    Reply

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