Signs you’re out of shape
You may huff and puff going up a few flights of stairs. Or you can feel out of breath and in pain with just a bit of exertion. Although this can happen occasionally to many people, sometimes it can be an indicator of poor cardiovascular health.
According to the World health Organization, adults aged 18 to 64 years old should be engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity. That’s because exercise has many health benefits include lowering blood pressure, preventing cardiovascular disease, improving depression, reducing chronic pain, and more.
But, not everyone abides by these guidelines. And even those who try, may not be doing it regularly enough.
We asked doctors and personal trainers how you can tell if you are out of shape, and what you can do to fix it.
You’re breathless with activities that require minimal exertion
Do you huff and puff after getting up from the couch to go to the kitchen? How about walking up a single flight of stairs? This is likely because your cardiovascular system is being taxed to provide essential oxygen to muscles (including your heart muscle) that are exerting an increased effort by your increased exertion via physical activity, explains orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Cordelia Carter. She adds “and you may not be in the best shape.”
In this context, being “in shape” means that “the cardiovascular system has adapted to the increased physical demands placed upon it,” Dr Carter says. “People who are ‘in shape’ are able to maintain respiratory rates and heart rates that are closer to their baseline, which is usually less than 20 breaths per minute and heart rate is usually less than 100 beats per minute.”
You can work to try to change this by slowly, deliberately and consistently increasing the amount of physical activity that you do each day. For example, “You might start by increasing the frequency and distance that you walk each day and then gradually increase the intensity, too by quickening your pace over time,” suggests Dr Carter. A similar approach can be taken with cycling, an elliptical machine, treadmill, or any other piece of stationary equipment, she adds.
Your back hurts while you’re standing in line
If you’re waiting in line to buy groceries and you’re noticing that your back is aching, this could be a sign that your core and paraspinal or back muscles are weak.
“Try to perform some elevated planks with your hands on a counter or table while bracing your core for five to 10 seconds, five times, twice a day,” says rehabilitation specialist, Dr Nadya Swedan. “You can also try adding in small-motion crunches, 10 reps, three times a day. And try to stretch your core in a cobra position.” All of these exercises and stretches will help your strengthen your core over time.