Sunday, March 08, 2015

Best Practices in Trading: Using Movement to Gain Emotional Control

We know from research that exercise has a number of health and emotional benefits, including increased well-being and improved concentration.  In spite of this, most traders work in highly sedentary ways, seated at a desk and watching screens for hours at a time.  The lack of movement keeps us restricted to a narrow state of mind and body and makes it difficult to shift our state when we enter periods of frustration or discouragement.  There are also significant health risks associated with sitting.

Today's best practice comes from Scott Garl, a long time reader.  Scott explains how creating movement at one's workstation can provide multiple personal and trading benefits:

"My best practice is absurdly simple, yet I haven't seen a comment on your blog or any other trading related blog or resource regarding the benefits of a stand up workstation and/or treadmill workstation versus the traditional sit-down workstation.  I do know that some traders complain about the health problems associated with sitting all day long.

Since purchasing a treadmill workstation eight months ago (to supplement my sit-down workstation), I can't say that my trading results have exploded to the upside, but there have been noticeable improvements from using it 2-3 hours per day.  Staring at the screens at a brisk 2.4 miles per hour (as I'm doing now) has helped to alleviate two problem areas:  frustration trading and trading out of boredom.  It's just plain difficult to spiral into negative emotions after a stop-out or two while so physically active and breathing deeply.  And it's nearly impossible to feel bored and fall prey to looking to the market for action.

Additionally, I feel a significant creative boost, as I never forget to turn on my Focus At Will feed, which I always forget to do while sitting for some reason.  That helps to increase my mood, focus, and creativity even more.  The treadmill has even helped with procrastination, as I tend to tackle many to-do's that normally get put off.  I've lost significant weight, have noticeably stronger abs, and have gained muscle mass as a result of also using a dumbbell while reading or evaluating market patterns."

Scott's combination of work and exercise keeps him energized while trading.  His use of the Focus At Will music and the weights also keeps him mentally and physically active, making it less likely that he will become bored during the trading day.  His insight that it is difficult to lapse into negative emotions when staying physically energized is an important one.  Controlling our bodies can be powerful ways to achieve cognitive and emotional control.

Further Reading:  The Performance Benefits of Exercise