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7 Clear Signs You Need to Move More

You’ll be surprised at how many ways exercise and movement can radically improve your health and well-being.

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How to move more

Even when you can’t make it to the gym or your preferred fitness class, it’s important to prioritize moving your body at home—especially if any of the following signs are familiar. Opt for a simple yoga flow, dance around your apartment, take a walk around the block, or follow your favourite online fitness class. You can even try breaking up your workday with some stretches between meetings while working from home. No matter how you decide to move, getting out of your seat could help with these issues.

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You’re constantly fatigued

If you’re tired all the time, even with adequate food and sleep, maybe all you need is to move a bit more. It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but research published in Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior found that one low to moderate-intensity exercise lasting more than 20 minutes enhances energy and decreases fatigue. “I like to tell my clients that an object in motion stays in motion,” says Chicago-based personal trainer Traci Mitchell. “It’s kind of like getting that big boulder of motivation moving, and once it gets moving, your energy increases.” (Try these energy-boosting foods when you’re feeling lethargic.)

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You’re suddenly experiencing pain

We’ve all had one of those mornings—you wake up and your lower back, knee, or shoulder is suddenly aching. But while you might be tempted to wait it out, certified personal trainers Jim Karas and Michelle Blakely suggest getting your body in motion. Just moving your muscles, loosening your joints, and getting blood pumping to that area of your body can be enough to lessen the pain, Karas says. Even clients with chronic pain—from low back pain or arthritis, for example—have improved their daily movement and ability to do chores by getting regular exercise. After your workout, chow down on one of these foods that naturally fight pain.

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You’re stressed

“Stress levels have never been higher,” Karas says. People are worried about finances, politics, constantly bombarded by media and information, and too busy to decompress—and that stress could be making people sick. But just walking, running, or strengthening your body for 20 to 30 minutes three to four times a week is enough to significantly decrease your anxiety. “If you’re dealing with a difficult decision, probably one of the best things you can do, whether it’s personal or business, is to get out and put your earbuds on,” Karas says. (Learn what really happens to your body when you’re stressed.)

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Your hormones could use some TLC

Exercise is an excellent way to help regulate your hormones, and you’d be surprised at how much that can impact how you think, look, and feel. Physical activity may boost your testosterone levels, which helps maintain muscle. Research in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found that even regular walking can positively impact hormone levels promoting strength. And boosting your testosterone levels also helps boost your metabolism, maintains youthful-looking skin, and keeps your brain functioning properly, according to Karas.

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Your digestion is out of whack

A 30-minute run or brisk walk will do more than just increase your appetite for dinner; it will help you digest your dinner, too. Aerobic exercise quickens your breathing and heart rate, which in turn improves the contraction of your intestinal muscles. As a result, your digested food passes more quickly through your intestines and out of your body, easing the risk of constipation, according to a review in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Moving in whatever method (walking, running, swimming, dancing, and even stretching or yoga) will help with digestion.

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Your time-management tricks are failing you

Personal trainer April Sutton says a lot of her clients approach her for assistance when they feel like they’ve lost control over how they structure their time due to overwhelming work and family commitments. “They can’t really think for themselves outside of their jobs because they’re so burnt out,” says Sutton. Trainer Michael Moody has clients prioritize exercise, and think about how other habits (how they eat, sleep, and how much they sit at work) can impact how they feel when they exercise. Becoming “human scientists of their body” helps people better understand how their lifestyles can impact their health, Moody says. From there, it’s a matter of correcting bad habits and continuing to put aside time to exercise regularly.

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You’re not sleeping well

If you’re having trouble nodding off or staying asleep at night, you may need to move a bit more during the day. Research published in 2017 in the journal Advances in Preventative Medicine found that exercise can improve sleep quality and quantity, regardless of the time of day you work out. Other research published in Clinical Psychology Review and the Journal of Sleep Research also found that exercise improves sleep for people with insomnia and may significantly elevate mood. If you haven’t been sleeping well lately, sneaking in more activity will probably help you catch more Z’s.

Next, learn more on what sitting is actually doing to your health.