While most of us will occasionally decide to go on a new health regime of diet and exercise, for the most part we seem content to put up with shockingly low standards of health. We've become conditioned to be content with a subpar level of fitness and even when nothing is 'wrong' with us per-say, we tend to aim low when it comes to our health and fitness and seem willing to accept 'functional' when really we should be gunning for 'optimal'...
In short, it is not okay to feel anything less than great every morning when you wake up from bed. When you stop and relax it is not okay for there to be a constant and niggling pain. And if you get out of breath when you climb the stairs, guess what? That's not okay either. Here then we will look at a few basic tests you can carry out on yourself in order to determine whether or not you should be happy with your current health levels or whether you should be aiming higher. As there are simply too many factors to take into account with health in general we're going to focus specifically on flexibility and mobility. Are you able to move around as you should be able to without soreness or loss of movement? Read on to find out if your mobility is at an at least acceptable level.
Test 1: Can You Squat?
A good measure of your basic fitness, balance and stability of your joints is whether or not you can squat. And by that I don't mean just squat down some of the way – but squat all the way down with your legs about a fist apart and feet on your tiptoes so that your buttocks are resting against your heels. This is a movement that most of us won't use all that regularly, but it is a great test of your knees, of your leg strength and of your balance. At the same time it's really not unreasonable to expect to be able to perform this very basic of movements – particularly as in the wild it would be a highly useful position. We are built to be able to squat and if you can't, then you should be looking at improving your knees or your leg strength. The next challenge is standing back up...
Test 2 (Men): Do You Wake up With an Erection?
This might seem like a somewhat basic and crude (in more ways than one) way of measuring your health, but actually it's a great indicator of a number of things – from how good your circulation is, to how well you're sleeping, to how much testosterone you have pumping through your veins. If you wake up flaccid then this suggests that something isn't right and chances are that you aren't going to perform at your best that day. If this is the 'norm' for you meanwhile, then it suggests that you generally are not at your optimal health.
Test 3: Do Your Muscles Ache Under Compression
If you take your thumb and use it to press the various muscles around your body, this shouldn't cause you to flinch with pain. If it does, then it suggests that those muscles are tight and need to be stretched out in order to achieve optimal function. What happens when you press on muscles is that it actually causes a tiny 'stretch'. If this causes you pain, then you probably aren't using those muscles enough and you need to be more active. This is important too, because even the slightest muscle imbalances can result in widespread discomfort throughout your body and also negatively affect your posture and make injury more likely.
Test 4: Can You Get to Sleep Quickly?
Another sign that something is wrong is an inability to sleep. Sleep is once again a very basic human requirement – it's something we should all be able to do that is good for us and that doesn't require any particular skill or ability.
If you are lying awake in bed for hours then, waking up throughout the night, or just getting up in the morning and finding yourself completely unrefreshed, then chances are that there is something deeper wrong. And even if there isn't… you can't let it continue. If you are lying awake 'tired and wired' then you are probably highly strung from work and dealing with stress. If you are tossing and turning in the night then it may be due to pain or the wrong body temperature. And if you are waking up unrested then it could be that you are suffering from sleep apnea or that you are feeling rough due to dehydration or other issues.
Test 5: Are You in Constant Pain?
Relax your body and close your eyes. Now ask yourself – do you feel any pain. If so, is this a chronic pain that you have simply been ignoring up until now? If it is, then again you are falling short of the most basic levels of health and putting up with subpar health when you really shouldn't. The resting state of the human body should not be painful, so if you have any source of constant pain then you should see a doctor or see what else you can do yourself to address it.
If you find yourself failing any of these little basic tests then it means you are lacking the most basic functional health that you are entitled to. Don't feel bad: the vast majority of people these days it seems are content to endure on-going pain and lack of mobility. What you should feel though, is motivated to do something about it so that you can start living life the way it's meant to be again. And once you have gotten to the point where you are surviving well, you can then look into getting your health to the point where you go beyond surviving and start thriving.