Wednesday, June 23, 1999

The Wise Aerobics Fribble

by Selena Maranjian (

Those who know me know they'll be more likely to find me on a couch reading or watching TV than using the stairmaster, running, or kick-boxing. That doesn't mean I'm not aware of the importance of conditioning my heart, building muscle, eating right, and so on. It's just that I'm lazy.

(Aside: A song was even written about me, years before I was born. I've got the Nina Simone rendition of it, but you can hear Lisa Ekdahl sing a snippet of it on

Anyway, in my unending search for an effortless way to get in shape, I've discovered something that I thought I'd share with my lazy Fool kin.

Without any further ado, I present to you the exercise craze of the late '90s: Wise Aerobics!

You're familiar with aerobics, I'm sure. Merriam-Webster points out that it first appeared in 1967 and defines it as: "a system of physical conditioning involving exercises (as running, walking, swimming, or calisthenics) strenuously performed so as to cause marked temporary increase in respiration and heart rate."

Well, I got to thinking... is strenuous exercise the only available option to get your heart pumping? I've certainly had a rapid pulse many times in my life without really moving. Any kind of sudden jolt or panic can put my heart (and probably yours) in high gear.

The simple solution, then, is Wise Aerobics. We at the Fool have long put down day-trading as a not very good way to try and build wealth. But maybe it's not all bad. Perhaps it can serve as an excellent way to get in shape!

Imagine this... you open a special "exercise account" with your favorite brokerage. Ideally one with modest commissions. Maybe even one like Merrill Lynch that charges you $1,500 per year for unlimited trades. Then you pick some nice, volatile stocks in which to invest. ("Invest" is really the wrong word here. If you're doing extremely short-term trading, you're actually just speculating or gambling.) Ideally, this account should hold money that you will need in the near future. It could be money that you'll need in three weeks for a down payment on a house -- or maybe money you owe to some people threatening to break your legs. (Remember that conversely, calm Foolish investors should only plunk money they won't need for five, ten, or more years into stocks.)

You can find companies in which to buy stock even among Fool portfolio holdings. Yahoo! or, for example, will do nicely. Look at Yahoo!'s closing prices in several recent trading days:

05/07/99  $147 7/16 
05/11/99   174      
05/13/99   160 3/8  
05/20/99   151 1/2  
05/24/99   137 7/8  
05/28/99   148  


05/06/99  $137 3/8  
05/11/99   148 3/8  
05/14/99   132 3/8  
05/24/99   117 1/2  
05/25/99   111 9/16 
05/26/99   120 15/16
06/01/99   105 13/16
06/02/99   112 1/8  

Make sure that you know little to nothing about the companies in which you invest and your workout will be all the more effective. Plan to buy and sell frequently, based solely on the advice of "experts" on TV, your intuition, and graphical indicators. If a chart of a stock's price during the day begins to resemble a chicken, sell! If it takes the form of an El Camino, buy!

Once you plunk your need-back-soon funds into companies you don't know very well (or better still, in companies you know have little chance of success), just sit back in your desk chair and call up stock quotations every few minutes.

As you see one stock lurching down 10%, your heart will quickly tighten in your chest, beating rapidly. A few minutes later, or perhaps the next day, the same stock may be up 8%. Whew. You can breathe a sigh of relief. But wait -- your other stock is down 13%! Your heart seizes again, and off it goes, beating 200 times a minute. One prognosticator on television says that has no earnings and pow -- it's down! Another prognosticator says it's growing very briskly and he expects the stock to rise and wham -- it's up again!

If you feel your heart beating too wildly out of control, take a minute to sell out of all your positions in that account. Temporarily put your money into companies that you understand very well, that you have high expectations for, that are trading at attractive prices. But don't forget your health -- once your ticker is tranquil again, back you go into volatile, unknown companies! Perhaps try some gold mining companies, or small biotech start-ups allegedly close to a cure for cancer. Favor companies that are expanding into non sequitur kinds of operations, like from meat-packing into telecommunications.

I have only just thought of this new approach to aerobic conditioning, so it comes with no guarantees or testimonials. But it does seem promising. If any of you try it, let us know how well it works on our Fribble message board!


[This has been another installment of Selena's Fribbles. If you're a glutton for the absurd, check out her archive.]

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