One way to think about getting fit is to invest in activities that contribute to better fitness. Going to the gym, playing a sport, taking a swim, and running are all activities that help us get fitter.

That said, investing in such activities takes time. And, there are phases in our life when other priorities take precedence. These priorities should ideally be few and far between but there are times when family and some crucial periods in our careers can take precedence in the amount of time they take.

In these times, I’ve found it helpful to double down on fitness-as-a-state. This means doing many little things throughout the day to be fitter – e.g., walking up the stairs, taking the scenic route to the bathroom, investing in and working with a standing desk, and replacing sitting meetings with standing and walking meetings.

In the ideal world, we’d be able to supplement such investments with activities too. But, if we find ourselves in a bind, fitness-as-a-state is a great place to start.

Bend vs. squat

A good friend went to a physiotherapist recently to get started on treating his back. The physiotherapist demonstrated a collection of small things he’d need to change to give his back relief. The principle underlying these changes was either to lean forward or to squat instead of choosing to bend.

His experience immediately resonated as I’d shared this in a post recently about the right way to lift weight (or a kid depending on what you do more often :-)).

When faced with picking something up from the ground, our backs readily offer to help shortcut the effort it takes to squat. But, every time we do so, we strain those muscles and, in the process, lose the leverage that comes from the stronger muscles in our legs.

The more we avoid taking this shortcut, the stronger and healthier our backs and legs will be.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere too.

Sweating versus watching others sweat

Prof Scott Galloway of NYU has an interesting weekly newsletter where he talks about the state of big technology and his thoughts on life. On Friday last week, he had a fascinating edition summing up his approach to life strategy. While I’m sure I’ll share a couple of the nuggets that resonated in coming weeks, my favorite was “Sweating vs. Watching Other Sweat.”

The ratio of time you spend sweating to watching others sweat is a forward-looking indicator of your success. Show me a guy who watches ESPN every night, spends all day Sunday watching football, and doesn’t work out, and I’ll show you a future of anger and failed relationships. Show me someone who sweats every day, and spends as much time at events as watching them on TV, and I’ll show you someone who is good at life.

Very true.

The only sure-fire way to get fit

Spend time with people fitter than you.

Too often, we look for quick fix solutions like diets and intense bursts of fitness focus. The simplest way to solve this in the long run is to simply make sure you consistently spend time with people who care about fitness. It won’t be long before you mimic their fitness regimes and find yourself making more time to get fit.

We’re hugely influenced by the company we keep. So, if you want to get smarter/wiser/better, choose company that is smarter/wiser/better.

We are no more than the average of the five people we spend most of our time with.