Here Are 10 Signs That You’re Out Of Shape


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Most of the time, people have a general understanding when they are probably out of shape. 

Perhaps they don’t even experience any sort of out of shape symptoms per se, but it’s been so long since they’ve done any type of consistent exercise that they aren’t even sure there’s a pair of sneakers in the house that hasn’t been donated or tossed. 

Other people may do their best to be active here and there, but life gets in the way, and they aren’t entirely sure if they are doing enough exercise to consider themselves “in shape.“ They will look for signs of being out of shape to help determine if a concerted effort needs to be made to work out more regularly.

So, what are the signs you’re out of shape? Are there out of shape symptoms to be cognizant of that can serve as an alert that it’s time to double down on fitness efforts?

In this article, we will discuss common signs and symptoms of being out of shape. 

We will cover: 

  • Am I Doing Enough Exercise?
  • Here Are 10 Signs That You’re Out Of Shape

Let’s get started!

A person holding their chest.

Am I Doing Enough Exercise?

Most people experience a period in their life where working out takes a back seat to other priorities, and their fitness level drops to less than ideal levels. 

But, how much exercise should you be getting?

The guidelines for physical activity for adults set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the British Heart Foundation are to accumulate either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week.

In addition to this cardio exercise, adults should also perform at least two total-body strength training workouts per week.

These physical activity guidelines are designed to encompass the minimum recommended amount of exercise you should get to promote health and reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers. 

Therefore, you can determine if you’re getting enough exercise for your health by keeping track of your physical activity for the week or wearing a fitness tracker.

Here Are 10 Signs That You’re Out Of Shape

Even if you are meeting the physical activity guidelines it’s still possible to feel like your fitness level is poor.

So, how do you know if you’re out of shape?

A person with their head on the keyboard of their laptop.

#1: You Are Always Tired

It can seem somewhat paradoxical that exercising would give you more energy rather than leave you feeling tired, but as per the American Council of Exercise (ACE), being physically active is an effective way to feel more energized and decrease fatigue. 

One of the signs you’re out of shape is feeling tired and lethargic much of the time. 

Studies suggest that those who don’t regularly exercise report higher levels of fatigue. Plus, sedentary subjects who begin an exercise program report higher levels of energy and less fatigue, independent of gains in fitness. 

#2: You Have a High Resting Heart Rate 

In recent years, with the advent of better technology, it’s become increasingly common among athletes and sedentary individuals alike to track resting heart rates. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, a lower resting heart rate is indicative of a higher level of fitness and better health.

As you get fitter, the heart muscle gets stronger, and the size and strength of the chambers that pump blood to your body and lungs (ventricles) increase. As a result, your heart is able to circulate a great volume of blood per beat, known as stroke volume. 

Thus, your heart rate decreases, as the demand for oxygen by the muscles and tissues of the body can be met with a more sizable delivery of blood per beat rather than the need for rapid beating to get enough blood volume to the tissues.

Additionally, resting heart rate decreases as you get fitter because aerobic exercise increases capillary density (so the muscles have easier access to oxygenated blood), and the muscles and tissues get better adept at extracting oxygen from the blood.

The average resting heart rate for adults is said to be between 60-100 beats per minute, but a resting heart rate on the upper end of that scale can be a sign you’re out of shape.

A high resting heart rate, a sign you are out of shape.

#3: It Takes a Long Time for Your Heart Rate to Recover After Exertion

Another heart-related metric that can be a sign you’re out of shape is that it takes a long time for your heart rate to return to resting levels after exercise.

Any type of physical activity increases your heart rate, and the more vigorously you exert yourself, the higher your heart rate will get relative to your maximum heart rate

However, once you stop your hard interval or workout overall, your heart rate should quickly drop back down towards baseline. 

If this process takes a long time, and you still feel pretty breathless for several minutes after you’re done exercising, it’s a sign you’re in bad shape.

#4: You’re Breathless Climbing Stairs

One of the hallmark signs you’re out of shape is that you feel winded or breathless, exerting yourself during everyday activities like climbing a flight of stairs or putting away groceries on a high shelf.

Working out consistently should help build a decent fitness base so that daily life activities really don’t register as being physically taxing. 

Essentially, because your workouts are much harder, everyday activities feel relatively easy and barely register as being demanding.

A person at their computer, tired, while their kids play behind them.

#5: You Can’t Keep Up With Your Kids

A sign of being out of shape is if you struggle to keep up with your kids as they pedal furiously on their tiny bikes, or you get breathless trying to play tag or chase them around the house, or a game of hoops with your daughter or son leaves you wanting to lay low and watch TV the rest of the day.

Similarly, if your arm is sore the day after playing catch or you feel achiness in leg muscles you didn’t even know you had the day after kicking the soccer ball around the yard, it’s a sign your muscles are weak, your flexibility is poor, and you’re out of shape. 

You should be fit enough to enjoy activities with young children with ease.

#6: You Get Injured Doing Everyday Activities 

Accidents happen, but if you find that you are getting injured doing everyday activities like picking up boxes, carrying groceries, doing simple house repairs, or getting in or out of the car too quickly, it can be a sign that you lack muscular strength and flexibility, and have muscular imbalances. 

If you find that you are often reaching for an ice pack to ease back pain, shoulder pain, or a pulled muscle in your hamstring after shoveling the driveway, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, etc., you might not be getting enough regular exercise.

A person pressing the button on an elevator.

#7: You Seek Convenience 

This one is tricky because it can be a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario. Inactivity lends itself to more inactivity, which makes doing activity that much harder.

However, if you are finding that you often seek convenience, such as looking for the closest parking spot or waiting several minutes to take the elevator than hoofing it up a couple of flights of stairs, it might be a sign that you’re out of shape.

Your brain intuitively knows that exertion will be tiring, so you seek the “easy” way out.

#8: You’re Sore For Days After a Workout

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which refers to post-exercise muscle soreness, is typical after intense workouts, such as a hard run, weightlifting workout, or long bike ride. 

Muscle soreness can also occur after unaccustomed exercise.

However, DOMS should resolve within 24-48 hours or so, but if it’s lingering for several days or occurring even after relatively low-intensity workouts, it is a sign you’re out of shape.

An overweight person holding a scale.

#9: You’re Carrying Extra Weight

Most people can identify that being overweight or obese is not necessarily a sign of being in good shape, though it’s possible to be in a clinically overweight or obese body and be fit.

With that said, according to the National Institute of Health, a high BMI or waist circumference can be indicative of poor fitness.

#10: You Have Low Back Pain

Lower back stiffness or chronic lower back pain is often a sign of a weak core, that your posture is poor, and/or that you might be sitting too much. 

Try to keep your core tight as you sit and stand, and get up periodically and move around to give your postural muscles a break.

No one wants to feel out of shape, but the good news is that there’s a very simple—though not necessarily easy—solution: try to be more active.

If you’ve been wholly inactive, don’t feel like you have to jump immediately into exercising every day doing vigorous workouts. 

Build up gradually, and give your body time to adapt. 

Consistency is key. Consider starting with a 30-day fitness challenge for beginners. You’ve got this!

A person doing mountain climbers outside.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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