The human body is an amazing machine. It can accomplish great feats, heal itself, and provide insight into emotional and physical problems, if we take the time to listen. Your body will tell you that you’re out of shape and when it’s time to devote a little more energy to physical movement. Not only is it important to be in shape for the health benefits, but it also allows you the freedom to enjoy life fully. Here are 10 ways to know it’s time to shape up.
01. You get winded walking up a flight of stairs.
If your heart and body are in supreme condition, you should be able to walk up a few flights of stairs without gasping for air. Climbing a flight of stairs is a good way to sneak in exercise. Make it a habit to always take the stairs when you are only ascending one or two floors. Not only will you avoid the elevator germs and crowding, your physical body will become stronger.
02. You have trouble getting up off the floor.
As children, we spent a lot of time sitting on the floor. As we get older, we do this less often in daily life. Make it a practice to occasionally do exercises on the floor such as sit-ups, yoga, planks or even stretching. The practice of routinely getting up and down from a floor position will help ease the transition and keep you limber and flexible, which will help prevent falls and injuries.
03. You are prone to injuries.
If you are frequently experiencing injuries, your body may not be in the best shape. When your body is in prime condition, you are significantly less likely to experience injuries. When your muscles are tight and underused, you may get hurt more easily and take longer to recover from a workout.
04. You feel tired all the time.
Believe it or not, regular exercise gives you more energy. If you’re feeling chronically exhausted, your body is not operating at optimal capacity. Slowly increasing your movement can help restore energy and enthusiasm.
05. You have a high resting heart rate.
Serious athletes tend to have very low resting heart rates, meaning that their heart is pumping blood efficiently. According to Mayo Clinic, the average resting heart rate for an adult is 60-100 beats per minute. Athletes may have a resting heart rate lower than 60. If your heart rate at rest is 100 or greater, it’s time to call the doctor and create a plan to improve cardiovascular fitness.
06. You don’t have the energy to play with the kids.
Being in shape will help you enjoy quality time with the young ones in your life. Walking, throwing a ball, climbing on the playground, or pushing them on a swing are memorable and enjoyable activities, but not when it causes physical distress. Gradually add more minutes to these activities to build stamina and enhance enjoyment.
07. You have difficulty balancing.
Try closing your eyes and balancing on one leg. If this is successful, lean forward and raise the back leg. Now try it with the other leg. If you struggle with balance, it’s time to make some corrections. Good balance is critical as we age because it helps prevent falls and injuries. Completing isolation balance exercises, core strengthening exercises, and yoga and pilates are all great for improving balance.
08. You have poor posture.
Slouching has become more common in our society as many people spend their days in front of a computer screen. Without proper care and attention to the muscles that support an upright posture, we may find ourselves hunched over. According to Harvard Health, besides musculoskeletal problems, poor posture can lead to other effects such as incontinence, constipation and heartburn. Focus on exercises that strengthen the muscles of the upper back and core such as scapula squeezes, planks and lat rows.
09. Unloading groceries is difficult.
Regular movement primes your body for activities of daily living. The chore of unloading groceries is probably not anyone’s favorite activity but being able to carry the groceries in easily from the car and reach the top shelves to hide the cookies from the kids makes it more tolerable. Gradually increase the number of bags you carry inside in one trip. If it’s safe for you, practice reaching high overhead so you can put away groceries on the higher shelves.
10. You crave junk food.
Many people love the occasional french fry or candy bar, but if your food fantasies center around junk food, it could be an indication that you’re out of shape. Those who are on a solid fitness routine tend to make healthier food choices and crave foods that fuel the body. Indulging in unhealthy foods occasionally probably won’t derail your efforts, but if you are craving them frequently, there’s a good chance your body is out of shape.
If your body has sent you any of these messages, it’s time to listen and take action. Assess your current fitness and movement routine and consider methods for improvement. Depending on what your body is saying, you may need to increase your cardiovascular fitness or strengthen certain muscle groups to allow for ease of daily activities. Nobody knows your body better than you, but it’s important to tune in to the signals so you can treat your body kindly. Your body is yours for life and it’s the only place you have to live, so make it the best it can be!
*Always consult your doctor before engaging in new physical activities
Illustration by Grace Downey