Does walking up a flight of stairs leave you breathless? Do you find it tough to bend down and tie your shoes? These are pretty obvious signs that you’re out of shape – and an alert that you need to add more exercise to your life. Officially, it’s recommended that adults engage in moderate aerobic exercise 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. Be on the lookout for the following indicators that you’re not moving enough, and follow my pointers to get back on track.
1. Simple everyday activities cause exhaustion
If returning a shopping cart across a parking lot or lugging in groceries from your car is causing you to huff and puff, that’s a sign you need to pay attention to your cardiovascular health. Aim to add more movement to your days, even if that means starting simple. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and increase the distance you walk (by parking further away from entrances, for example, or taking extra laps around your block during an evening walk). Gradually pick up the pace for even better results.
2. You don’t feel comfortable in your clothing
If you notice your clothes are a little more snug than usual, or you just don’t feel good in what you’re wearing, it’s time to reassess your diet and exercise routine. Again, start increasing how much you move each day, and take stock of what you’re eating. Making just small changes to your caloric intake can make a difference! Empty calories in sweets, snacks or alcohol can quickly add up to a several pounds of weight gain.
3. Sleep isn’t restful
Needing coffee or an energy drink to make it through the day? You may not be getting the quality of sleep that you need. Exercising regularly during the day tires out the body, and that, in turn, improves sleep. Having a good night’s rest translates to better energy, better focus and even better mood during the day.
4. You’re experiencing lower back pain
A stiff lower back or back pain after spending too much time on the couch, in bed, at your desk or standing in line may signify lower back and core muscles. Lack of exercise is one of the main causes for lower back issues. To strengthen your core, try doing some crunches and planks daily. Also do some stretches or yoga for your lower back to help prevent stiffness and pain.
5. Your posture is poor
When we aren’t exercising enough, our abs, upper back and shoulder muscles can become weak, causing poor posture. Standing tall with your shoulders back is better for your bones and the alignment of your spine. Work toward building muscle strength (for example with strength training exercises) and move your body more to prevent posture problems.
6. You have a high resting heart rate
An elevated heart rate while sedentary may be a sign of being generally out of shape. If you’re out of shape, your body has to work harder for proper circulation, in turn causing your heart to beat faster. Exercising regularly will help lower your resting heart rate. Try adding a cardio activity such as walking, running, elliptical or cycling at least twice or three times a week for 30 minutes, and you should begin to notice a difference in your resting heart rate.
7. You aren’t feeling emotionally well
Anxiety, stress, mood swings and poor concentration can leave you feeling emotionally drained. Not engaging in exercise daily may enhance these feelings in physical ways with muscle tightness, neck pain, headaches, chest tightness and a clenched jaw. Exercise is well known to have a positive impact on mood and anxiety. Start working out again, and you’ll likely notice a quick improvement in feelings of well-being.
8. You keep getting sick
If you’ve been catching one cold after another, it may be linked to lack of exercise and a weak immune system. Living a sedentary lifestyle, your body’s immune system may not function at the level it is capable of. Exercise supports immune system health. Also, when we’re working out regularly, we tend to pay more attention to our eating habits, including more healthy foods with vitamins and minerals that keep us well. Don’t forget to take a multivitamin to cover all of the bases!
9. Your joints feel stiff
Stiff joints don’t mean “you’re just getting old.” If you’re not exercising enough, no matter what your age, you may feel stiff and less flexible that you should. A daily workout regimen helps to strengthen the muscles around your joints and bones, relieving some of that stiffness. You might also consider taking an omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement to support a healthy inflammatory response and relieve occasional joint pain.
10. You’re suffering from digestive issues
Maybe an awkward topic to talk about, but if you’re not regular, lack of exercise may be the problem. When we don’t move our bodies, our digestive systems aren’t motivated to move either. The colon responds to being stimulated, and without exercise, it’s not getting the stimulation it needs. Help alleviate the symptoms of constipation by adding exercise to your daily routine along with drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet that includes fiber.