6 Tell-Tale Signs You're Out of Shape (And How to Get Back on Track)

For most of us, the revelation that we might be out of shape comes a little too late. It happens at doctor’s appointments or when we muster up the courage to step on the scale. We realize it only when serious health problems show up and we start paying the consequences.

Most of us have trouble developing the good habits that keep us healthy and on track. We slip all too easily into bad fitness and nutritional habits that lead to sedentary lifestyles and poor health—even if it doesn’t appear that way on the outside.

But what if you could tell that you were out of shape before you developed conditions or realized that your holiday pounds have turned into an extra twenty?

If you want to be more diligent, feel better, perform better, and live longer, watch for these signs that you’re out of shape.


6 Ways to Tell You’re Out of Shape...And How to Fix It

1) Your heart rate takes forever to come down.

One of the most telling signs that you’re out of shape is your own heart. This is something you can always feel after physical activity, so pay attention. Whether it’s actual exercise, like running or hitting the gym, climbing the stairs at the office, or doing heavy-lifting around the house, mind what your heart is telling you afterward.

The heart beats faster to pump oxygen to your body during exercise. This can push your heart rate anywhere between 140 and 190 BPM. Normally, when you’re coming down after exertion, your body will slow its heart rate by 20 BPM until normal again. When you’re not fit, this process will take a lot longer. When you’re more fit, returning to a regular heart rate can happen more quickly.

If you finding yourself with a racing heart, feeling winded and out-of-breath for a long time after exercise, it’s a sign that you’re in bad shape.

2) You always feel fatigued.

Fatigue is more than just a need for more sleep. It’s a sign that you’re out of shape, and usually in more ways than one. If you’re sleeping right, not overloading on caffeine, and kicking the alcohol, there are other factors that demand addressing—some physical, some psychological.

Fatigue can be caused by a lack of proper nutrition and lack of exercise. Just walking for 30 minutes each day and adjusting your diet to be slightly healthier with more fresh fruits and vegetables, cutting down on sugar, and consuming lean proteins can give you more energy and alertness to make it through the day.

That said, sometimes diet and exercise aren’t the culprits. Depression is a real possibility, and if you think that’s the case, don’t ignore it—talk to your doctor.

3) You need a pillow fort to get to sleep.

Stress and a lack of physical activity can have lasting effects on the body. When you sit at a desk all day, it can impact how you sleep. If you find yourself needing a pillow to cushion every nook and cranny of your body in order to sleep comfortably, something is wrong. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pay a visit to a chiropractor, but it does mean there is a physical imbalance. Aches and pains are locking you up.

Grab a foam roller and go to work. Lay on the ground, arms folded over your chest, and roll out your spine for a full minute. Do the same to your calves and hamstrings, and do this twice a week. It will help you stay limber and sleeping like a baby...with one pillow.

4) Your resting heart rate is high.

We’ve already covered your heart rate as it comes down from exercise. What you should pay more attention to is the state of your resting heart rate. If your heart is working overtime when you aren’t exerting yourself, your heart may not be functioning as it should. The adult resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 BPM. At rest, a healthy heart should not go above 100 BPM. If it is, you’ve got to work on your heart health. You can do this with cardio. Start small with low-impact exercise if your heart rate gets too high.

Also mind your intake of rich, fatty foods, like red meats. Cholesterol can play a role in how hard your heart has to work.

5) You can’t sit on the floor without pain.

As you get older, you may find that certain actions get harder. One of these is definitely sitting on the floor. Squatting, sitting on your shins as you kneel, crossing your legs—however you sit, if you find yourself uncomfortable, in pain, and having to shift every few minutes because your back hurts, you may have some major flexibility problems. Work on limbering up with some daily stretches and exercise.

6) Your belt keeps moving down notches.

Perhaps the most obvious sign that your physical fitness is slipping is that you’re putting on the pounds. Even if you’re not stepping on the scale—and even if the numbers don’t change all that much—you can tell, often, from how your clothing fits. Excess weight, especially around your middle, can be threatening to your health. When you pass the 40-inch mark, you should begin to worry about your risk for heart attack.

How do you fix it? Exercise is obvious, but your diet, too, is crucial. Kick your fast food habit, fried foods, and alcohol. Watch portions and really focus on fueling your body with quality...not just tasty treats.

Fitness demands diligence. It can be so easy to let your shape slip simply because you're not paying attention to your health. That said, if you find these warning signs are true of you, don't fret. You can make small, incremental lifestyle changes to get back on track.

Reclaim your body and your health.

What's something that always makes you feel physically better? Share your best healthy habit in the comments.