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Determination and purpose are pre-requisites for exercise – and investment

PUBLISHED: 10:03 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:08 24 April 2020

There's lots of things to discuss with your household when taking part in your daily exercise during the coronavirus lockdown - including your finances, says Peter Sharkey. Picture: Getty Images

There's lots of things to discuss with your household when taking part in your daily exercise during the coronavirus lockdown - including your finances, says Peter Sharkey. Picture: Getty Images

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Author Haruki Murakami suggests dozens of topics to consider while exercising. Finance is one, says Peter Sharkey.

More than a decade ago, Haruki Murakami wrote What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, an outstanding read which offered runners an ample supply of topics and ideas to consider (rather than talk about) when they’re next staring at a seemingly unforgiving obstacle – usually distance.

Murakami was already an established novelist when he realised that his rather sedentary existence was making him fat. His response was to take up running, becoming proficient enough to complete dozens of marathons, half-marathons and one particularly gruelling 100 kilometre ultra-marathon, the spiritual benefits of which he describes in detail.

Murakami considers running to be a means of achieving fitness, but he also appreciates that it can stir something altogether more spiritual and meaningful. He hits the nail on the head when talking about how running requires purpose, determination and a willingness to make the mind and body do things they don’t really want to do.

Over the past four weeks, millions of people have taken the opportunity to walk, run or cycle for an hour or so each day. Many are exercising for the first time in years and however ungainly they may appear to the critical eye, they are making an effort, not slumping in front of daytime television.

When the lockdown was announced, my wife and I set ourselves a daily target distance to walk, achieving it on each of the 25 consecutive days we’ve been out. The weather has helped, as has walking together and the steady oncoming flow of people willing to swap a ‘good morning’ and a smile.

Like most folks, the subjects we’ve discussed during our daily constitutional over the past three-and-a-bit weeks have ranged from the mundane and serious to the frivolous and urgent.

Some topics are determined by what we’ve heard or seen before us. We’ve admired magnificent, azure-blue skies and listened to beautiful birdsong, much clearer now there’s less traffic around. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of formerly bare-branched trees bursting into life as billions of leaves appeared almost overnight. Unfortunately there’s the idiots who have no concept of how wide six foot is, who run or cycle by, oblivious to their anti-social behaviour.

Holidays and where we plan to visit once the virus has been tamed has become a particularly popular topic of conversation, as is the degree to which we’re missing live sport and who we plan to invite to our post-coronavirus party, doubtless a subject regularly discussed by millions of other couples across the land. It’s interesting how much we miss normality when we cannot experience it.

Then there’s financial security, a topic as worthy of discussion by Millennials as it is by those of us a tad longer in the tooth.

According to a survey published earlier this week, the state of household finances is deteriorating with more than a third of families seeing their incomes hit by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The survey, by IHT Markit, a data company, shows that UK households reported their first fall in earnings since October 2017 after people were laid off, furloughed or, in the case of the self-employed, simply ran out of work. Consequently, I suspect credit cards are taking a hammering, a worrying trend because when economic activity eventually resumes, it’s important that consumers are not burdened by the necessity to repay debt but will instead boost their discretionary spending, so contributing to a strong economic recovery.

The government, which, in fairness, hasn’t done much wrong, is doing all it can, but millions of people are dipping into savings or selling investments to get by.

Perhaps savers and investors who tackle their regular daily exercise with vigour should take a leaf out of Haruki Murakami’s book. Admittedly, our exercise regimes are a means of achieving or retaining fitness, but they can also allow us to think about more meaningful matters, such as longer-term financial security, the importance of which has become crystal clear.

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Murakami’s assertion that running requires purpose, determination and a willingness to placate mind and body could apply equally to saving and investment. The Coronavirus lockdown has given millions of people a rare opportunity to exercise; it’s also shown many of them how fragile their financial situation is. Rectifying that will require large supplies of determination and purpose, but as Murakami proves, it is achievable.

TAM Asset Management Ltd offer investors the opportunity to invest their savings in Investment ISA portfolios comprising a variety of different funds pursuing long-term cautious, balanced or adventurous strategies. For further details, please visit the MoneyMapp website.

Please note: with investing, your capital is at risk.

For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey’s regular column, The Week In Numbers.

THE WEEK IN NUMBERS

160%

Sales of hair clippers surged by 160% towards the end of March as the lockdown persuaded Britons to try cutting their own hair. Online sales of clippers have risen by a staggering 365% compared with the same period last year.

11

Hats off to Adam Norris, father of F1 driver Lando, who has saved 11 cycle stores (and 80 jobs) after buying the Cycle Republic chain from Halfords. Mr Norris will keep the stores open and soon stock electric scooters and bikes which he expects to be extremely popular.

75%

Confining the over-70s to their homes for a year, irrespective of their health, as some politicians are suggesting, makes absolutely no sense. According to a report by the International Longevity Centre, total spending by households aged 65 and over grew by 75% between 2001-18.


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