Physical Activity vs. Exercise

Physical Activity vs. Exercise

Although similar, exercise and physical activity are not exactly the same thing. Think about it—walking aimlessly around your house while talking on the phone is not the same as going for a hike or a walk around your neighborhood. But what’s the real difference between the two? Physical activity is any kind of bodily movement, whereas exercise is “a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive and has as a final or an intermediate objective [of] the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness.”[1] Are you going to get the same physical results from basic physical activity and exercise? No. Most physical activity is considered light to moderate in intensity, meaning you can still talk while you do them. However, “certain health benefits can only be accomplished with more strenuous physical activity,” which means that to really push yourself to be in better physical shape, you need to pump up your intensity.[2]

            Ideally, an exercise program will contain components that work each of these four main areas: cardio-vascular endurance, muscle endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility. There are lots of activities that work in multiple areas, such as running for cardio-vascular endurance and muscle endurance, or yoga for muscle strength and flexibility. If you’re unsure of where to begin with a new exercise regime, visit your gym and talk to a trainer who can help guide you in a direction that works for you. Additionally, don’t forget to mix it up a little! Try new activities to engage your body in different ways.

            Now that you’re exercising, does that mean you can neglect all other physical activity? Of course not. One, that’d be impossible unless you’re telekinetic and can make your laundry put itself away, and two, it’s important to keep moving throughout the day even if you’re not actively exercising at the time. One study suggested that workers who take a deliberate two minutes every hour to walk around the office live longer than their seated counterparts; in fact, the walkers in the study were 33% more likely to extend their lifespans than those who didn’t.[3] What’s more is there are lots of small ways to incorporate a little more physical activity into your day without needing to set aside copious amounts of time. Need to run to the grocery store? Park your car on the far side of the parking lot so you have a little further to walk. Do you work above the ground floor of your office? Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you have to take the elevator, maybe try to do some calf raises as you ride between floors—get creative! As we discussed in an earlier post, “Love Your Heart with These Healthy Tips”, finding little ways to keep moving is good for your heart. The American Heart Association has lots of great tips and ideas to incorporate more movement into your day, the full list of which can be found here.

            Finding time to exercise is important to reach your health and fitness goals, but your activity doesn’t need to be restricted to the gym. Be on the lookout for new ways to boost your physical activity and keep your body in motion as you work towards your personal fitness goals. Spring has sprung so spring into action and get moving!

 

Disclaimer: Vemma Nutrition Company recommends following a healthy approach to weight loss by consulting with your physician or healthcare provider prior starting any new exercise or diet plan.

[1] Caspersen, C J, K E Powell, and G M Christenson. “Physical Activity, Exercise, and Physical Fitness: Definitions and Distinctions for Health-Related Research.” Public Health Reports 100.2 (1985): 126–131. Print.

[2] Robb, Barbara. “Exercise and Physical Activity: What's the Difference?”EverydayHealth.com, Zifff Davis, 1 July 2009, www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/basics/difference-between-exercise-and-physical-activity.aspx.

[3] McSpadden, Kevin. “Two Minutes of Walking Each Hour Drastically Improves Health: Study.”Time, Time, 1 May 2015, time.com/3843005/health-study-excercise-healthy-living-walking/.

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