9 Clues You’re More Fit Than You Think
These subtle clues of strength, balance, flexibility, and stamina reveal how healthy you really are, according to a personal trainer who knows.
How fit am I?
It’s easy to feel intimidated when Facebook posts boast of CrossFit and Tough Mudder, colleagues run 5Ks or marathons, and the local gym is packed with impossibly toned bodies. But personal trainer Shannon Fable, director of exercise programming for Anytime Fitness, says, “So many of your daily chores and habits can indicate that you’re stronger than you think you are.”(Seriously, these household chores burn major calories.) If you answer “yes” to the following subtle signs of strength and fitness, you might be more fit than you give yourself credit for—and it motivate you to keep going.
Is your work bag full?
If you think lifting a 10-pound weight sounds like a feat, Fable says you should weigh your handbag, your work bag, or any other bags you regularly tote. “Combined, they might be 15 pounds!” she says. Then think about how far you might carry them—across a store parking lot, up and down stairs, in and out of buildings. “You’re also moving mass through space. When you translate that to concentrated strength work, you’re actually extremely strong.” This is how to downsize your purse if you think it’s too heavy.
Can you climb in and out of your car without pain?
“This motion comes from a basic squat movement, which becomes harder as we get older,” Fable explains. “If you’re in a low-to-the-ground car, you’re doing a deep squat to get out. When my husband, who is 6’3”, drives, his butt is way below his knees—and he has to get in and out of his car at least four times a day. That’s a sign that his knees are super healthy.” (By the way, here’s how to correctly do a squat.)
Can you stand in line without shifting your weight?
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This is what we call functional flexibility, says Fable. “Most people, because they spend so much time sitting down and hunched over, have chronically tight hips. When many people stand up and straighten out, this can cause a lot of pain,” she says. “So if you can stand in a short meeting, at the checkout line at the grocery store, or while waiting for a table at a restaurant without shifting your weight from side to side and don’t have any low back pain, you’re better off than a lot of people out there.” You can make some of these lifestyle changes if you suffer from low back pain.
Can you heave your own luggage while you travel?
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Lifting your suitcase up on the checked baggage scale, stowing a carry-on in the overhead bin, and retrieving your bags off the carousel after you land—each of these actions signifies good muscle tone. This is the best way to pack your suitcase, by the way.
Can you shop without needing to pause?
Ever purchase just a few things from the grocery store, then walk back to your car carrying your bags without a cart? Fable says that’s an effort worth recognizing. Even pushing a heavy cart without getting out of breath should indicate you’re in decent shape. Also, can you lift all those bags from the trunk to the kitchen counter without puffing? That’s another sign of strength and cardiovascular fitness.
Can you cook in a crowded kitchen?
“This sounds like a funny one, but if you can cook when there are tons of people or animals under your feet or in your way and not drop things, burn food, or slip or fall, that’s another good sign of coordination,” says Fable. “I consider my kitchen to be the scariest spot in our house because it’s where everything is happening.” It might be time to take advantage of these brilliant kitchen shortcuts.
Can you carry laundry down the stairs?
Walking downstairs with a load in your hands is a good sign of balance, says Fable. “When you’re younger, you have really good control of deceleration, but that gets harder and harder with age, which is why people fall and break hips.” When you’re walking downstairs, there’s a lot going on internally to make sure your body stays in control. If you’re carrying something big and awkward to hold, like laundry, you don’t have the visual of the last step, which helps you land safely without too much force. So, this exercise is a good test for how well your body can compensate. Make sure you’re not making these laundry mistakes, too.
Can you balance your kid on your hip?
“It makes me laugh every time a gym member says, ‘I can’t lift that much weight!’” says Fable. “I’m like, ‘How much does your kid weigh again?’” Picking up a 30-pound child is equivalent to lifting a 45-pound dumbbell, says Fable, because of the squirmy kid factor. With a weight, “you can set your core and focus your exertion—it’s not going to move around on you.” Tip: To avoid back pain and make yourself even stronger, alternate on which side of your body you hold your child.
Can you keep up with your kids on the playground?
How you spend your time at the park can say a lot about your fitness, Fable says. “Do you get off the park bench? Can you climb up the stairs to the top of the slide? That shows cardiovascular fitness. Can you lift your kids to hold on to the monkey bars? That indicates strength. Can you follow behind your kid on the balance beam? That’s a good test of balance,” Fable explains.