If you're not getting enough exercise, your body will let you know. Here are the signs to look out for.

Maddy Sweitzer-Lammé
January 29, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement

It's not just in your head: working a 9-to-5 job from your makeshift home office is very hard on your body, in an extremely lazy kind of way. Without the movement of your morning commute, the walk across the office to the bathroom or the run to the coffee shop around the corner, office workers have been significantly less active in the last year than they have been in the past, and that has an impact on how our bodies feel every day.

Even if you're making an effort to be more active, your body may be sending you signs that it needs more movement. We spoke with Dr. Lisa N. Folden, a licensed physical therapist and lifestyle coach whose book, Healthy Made Easy: The Ultimate Wellness Guide for Busy Moms (buy it: $30 on Amazon), is focused on giving women with busy lifestyles the tools to build wellness into their daily routines. She highlighted five unexpected signs to look for that indicate you simply need more exercise.

"The moral of the story is keep exercising," Dr. Folden says. "Your body will always thank you."

Credit: Getty / stevecoleimages

5 Surprising Signs You're Not Moving Enough During the Day

You're constipated.

"When your bowels are backed up, that's a reasonable sign that you're either not getting enough fiber and water...or that you aren't moving enough," said Dr. Folden. She says to get things moving along, you should be moving regularly. "Lying down or sitting around most of the day is a great way to stop up your bowels," she adds.

Take a walk on your lunch break, or make it a point to get up and stretch a few times throughout the day. Your body (and bowels) will thank you.

You're experiencing muscle tightness.

"Your muscles are like rubber bands," Dr. Folden explains. "The more you stretch and move them, the more flexible they are. When you stop moving them, they freeze or tighten up. Essentially, they become shorter. When this happens, you may find regular, everyday movements more uncomfortable and challenging."

If you find yourself uncomfortable when doing everyday movements like picking an object up off the floor, Dr. Folden recommends showing your body some love by spending a few minutes three times a week stretching your body. Not all exercise has to involve high intensity lifting or cardio—stretching can be just as beneficial. (Psst- here are some exercises you can do at home to help with back pain—no equipment required!)

Your joints are stiff.

Dr. Folden says that your knees, shoulders and ankles all have a lubricant called synovial fluid in them. "That fluid helps your joints move smoothly and without pain. When you find yourself immobile and not exercising often, that fluid production begins to slow down and your joints notice," she explains. The result is that creaky feeling you may feel in the morning. Adding a bit of walking back into your routine will help get the synovial fluid flowing once again.

You get winded easily.

If you start noticing that climbing stairs or walking around the grocery stores leaves you winded, that's an indication that you need to get a bit more cardio in your day-to-day life. "This is happening because your lungs and heart are no longer used to pumping and working at a rate above a sedentary level," says Dr. Folden. "So they go into overdrive when you do 'higher level activities' like running to your car or walking on a hill. Keeping your body active and conditioned is the best remedy for a tired heart and lungs."

You're sad or in a bad mood.

There are lots of reasons you might be experiencing a worsening mood these days, so don't let a lack of exercise be one of them. Dr. Folden says, "Regular physical activity causes your body to produce more 'happy hormones' also known as endorphins."

In addition to many other actions, endorphins trigger a very positive feeling in the body (similar to popular pain killers) that generally makes you feel happier and more at ease." If nothing else gets you there, a little extra happy hormone ought to offer just the incentive. (Learn more about the mental health benefits of exercise.)