What Does It Mean to Be in "Good Shape"?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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The term "good shape" is often used in a few different contexts, and it is meant to suggest that something or someone is in a positive overall condition. Many people use the term to describe a person’s physical health, which could be in relation to serious health conditions or simply cosmetic issues related to body conditioning. The other most common use is to describe the condition of an inanimate object, like a piece of equipment or a house.

If a person is overweight and eventually loses a few pounds or kilograms, that person might say that he’s in better shape or good shape, and a person might also use the term after a positive doctor’s report on a checkup. The idiom can be used to describe a lack of serious health issues, an improvement that makes someone look better physically, or a general sense of well-being. For example, someone could say, "I felt bad last month, but I seem to be in pretty good shape now," to suggest that his overall health condition had improved.


The other common use for the term "good shape" is in the context of some sort of inanimate object. If someone owns a car, and it has no serious mechanical troubles, he might say that it’s in good shape, or if it’s nearly perfect, he might even say that it’s in "great" shape. Any sort of object which often needs maintenance or is notably subject to deterioration can also work well with the term, including things like houses or collectables like baseball cards. For example, if someone were buying an antique table, its price might be a lot higher if it was in good shape, and the buyer would probably be very concerned about the overall condition of the object.

The term is often used in a relative sense with a lot of subjectivity, and it doesn’t necessarily suggest any kind of exact level of quality. If something is older, people might describe it as being in good or great shape even if it has a lot of serious damage and needs a lot of work. Different people may also have very different ideas about what "good shape" means in relation to a particular subject. For example, some people may describe themselves as being in good shape simply because they aren’t suffering from a major illness, while others would only use the term if they were in top athletic condition.


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Post 3

@Iluviaporos - It would be interesting to know how much of that is psychosomatic and how much is physical. I suspect part of the battle when exercising or even eating well, is knowing yourself and your limits. If you know you can do something, because you've done it before, then it's going to be easier to do it.

Also, even if you aren't in a good shape comparatively to what you have been before, you probably learn how to listen to yourself well and not push yourself too hard.

If you have never exercised before, then you might think you can sprint without stopping for half an hour and feel disappointed when you find out you can't. But if you know yourself well enough to know how well you can do, you simply won't attempt anything like that until you know you're ready.

Post 2

@browncoat - It probably depends on what you mean by "good shape" though. I was extremely out of shape when I was a teenager and only started to get fitter when I was at university. It was very difficult.

Since then I've gotten completely out of shape more than once, but it's never been as difficult to get back into a routine. I think I worked up to a base level of fitness that sticks with me, even if I'm not able to go to the gym for a few weeks.

I can't just go straight back to my peak, of course, but I never feel anywhere near as bad as I did when I first started to get fit.

Post 1

The annoying thing is that as soon as you let yourself fall out of being in good shape, it becomes harder to get back into good shape. Once you've gotten into a routine and you are relatively fit, it's easier to maintain it.

You start to lose muscle mass within five days of stopping an exercise routine. So even just getting an injury and stopping through no fault of your own can set you way back.

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