Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Performance Benefits of Exercise

An interesting news article once again points out the benefits of moderate exercise for both physical and emotional health.  One of the particularly valuable points is that exercise can be as effective in health outcomes as a prescribed medication.  This is not to disparage the use of medications, but rather emphasizes the value of physical activity.  A particularly fascinating study finds that exercise changes the microbes in our digestive system, aiding digestion, regulating weight, and guarding against health problems.  The implication is that it is important to both decrease sit time and increase fit time.  Surprisingly, this simple formula brings cognitive benefit as well as emotional gains, aiding learning and concentration.

What these studies don't reveal are the potential virtuous circles created by positive lifestyle changes.  For example, more exercise and better eating may aid sleep quality and mood, which in turn could improve our willpower reserves and aid real-time pattern recognition and disciplined trading.  Those gains in trading could further boost self-confidence, provide energy for deeper market preparation, and thereby yield further trading gains.  

Could it be the case that, just as lifestyle changes can be as effective as a drug, that they could be as effective as coaching or counseling?  Might we accelerate learning curves in trading by maximizing our physical, emotional, and cognitive resources?

My recent post suggested that our work environments are often poorly suited to maintaining an optimal state of focus.  It may well be the case that our inattention to the needs of mind and body place us in inefficient states for sustaining peak performance.  Can we really expect to fire on all cylinders when we fail to maintain our cognitive and emotional engines? It takes a world-class pit crew to win an auto race; perhaps no less to win the race for trading performance.

Further Reading:  The Value of Preparation