Being ‘in shape’ comes down to a lot of factors that have nothing to do with your weight. Your flexibility, heart rate, and ability to accomplish every day tasks are just some of the things that should be taken into account when determining your fitness level.
Knowing the signs can help you evaluate your health and warn you if there’s something to address.
Here are nine ways to tell if you’re in not-so-bad shape:
1. You can touch your toes
Flexibility might not be something that you work on regularly during your workouts, but it’s an important component when it comes to overall health and wellness. This simple act lengthens your muscles, prevents injury and keeps you pain-free. You don’t have to be able to twist yourself up like a pretzel to be considered flexible, though. Being able to touch your toes is a good indication that you’re flexibility is in check.
2. Your heart rate falls quickly after a workout
Think about how your body reacts after you finish a workout. Are you out of breath for a while and noticeably tired after all that hard work? Or do you recover quickly?
Sure, if you rush through a high intensity workout and skip the cool down, then you might be struggling to breathe. But if you cool down properly and your heart rate returns to more of a resting rate, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re in good shape.
3. You don’t have extra belly or thigh fat
This is not meant to shame people’s appearance, but there is a link between excess body fat and fitness level.
Not having that layer of fat on your stomach or thighs could be an indicator that your fitness level is maybe a bit better than expected, even if you aren’t spending a ton of quality time with your treadmill.
4. Your body moves easily
It’s something small, but pain-free movement can make a huge difference in your overall quality of life.
Being able to get up out of a chair with ease or go for a long hike without struggling or having to stop because you’re in pain are all little indicators that you might be in better shape than you thought.
5. You start sweating early in an activity
You might think sweating as soon as class starts means that you’re out of shape, but it actually the opposite.
Research has found that women athletes who had been training regularly broke out into a sweat sooner than those who didn’t work out as frequently. If the women were overheated, those who sweat frequently were more likely to quickly start sweating to cool themselves down. If you find yourself sweating quickly after you start moving around, it’s a good sign (even if it’s sometimes a little bit embarrassing). Just don’t forget to rehydrate.
6. You can accomplish every day tasks
It might not seem like much, but if you can accomplish the things you need to do each day (and their more involved and complicated counterparts like laundry, driving, and more) independently, without needing help from friends and family, you might actually be more in shape than you thought.
If you begin to need help completing some (or all) of your daily tasks, it could be a sign of injury or illness, which, of course, could be affected by or related to your fitness level. Staying active and moving slightly more could help keep you fitter, longer.
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7. Your posture is perfect (or close to it)
Like flexibility, good posture is imperative for keeping your body safe from injury whether you’re exercising, at work, or just sitting on your couch. Good posture can also mean good balance, which, if you’re an athlete, can seriously come in handy.
It can also indicate that your core muscles and leg muscles are strong, which is a definite plus. All those times you were told to sit or stand up straight paid off.
8. You play sports for fun
You might not work out on a regular basis, but if you’re able to keep up when you play sports with friends, you’re probably better off than you thought.
You don’t have to play sports seriously to reap the benefits. In fact, if you play even occasionally or in an intramural league, it could be a sign that you’re actually in pretty good shape.
9. You refuse to sit all day
In case you haven’t heard, sitting all day long is bad for your health. According to a studies, the longer you sit, the greater your risk of dying from associated complications and diagnoses.
Sitting for less than about 30 minutes at one time — and then getting up to stretch and move around — gives you the best outcomes and lowest risk of early death. If you stand up and walk around the office or your house regularly, or if you work from a standing desk or at a job that requires standing and moving, you just might be better off — and in better shape — than you thought.