What's the Difference Between Exercise and Physical Activity?

We’ve been told over and over that we need 30 minutes of daily exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So you may be surprised to learn that recent research shows that the amount of time we spend sitting each day is just as important as the amount of time we spend exercising. A new term, “active couch potatoes”, has emerged to describe those who exercise 30 minutes per day, yet remain sedentary the rest of the day (commuting, sitting at work, eating meals). 

While the 30 minutes of daily exercise is very beneficial, the sedentary aspect of the day could be causing major health problems ph. In fact, physical inactivity is a risk factor for chronic disease and the 4th leading cause of death according the World Health Organization. 

So, just what is the difference between physical activity and exercise – and why is it important? By definition, physical activity is the movement that is carried out by the muscles that requires energy, while exercise is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness. In short, exercise is a subcategory of physical activity. While research shows that all physical activity has a positive impact on health and wellness, exercise improves physical fitness (cardiorespiratory, strength, endurance, flexibility, body composition).

Want to know what can you do to become more physically active? Suggestions include: standing more often than sitting – find ways to get up and move before, during and after work. Walk on your lunch hour; take the stairs instead of the elevator. At home try: gardening; cleaning; keeping a mat or weights nearby when watching television.

Be sure to continue to include daily structured, intentional exercise to improve your physical fitness. Consider: hiring a personal trainer, taking a TRX class, a group fitness/weight lifting class or hiking with friends. 

For more suggestions, please click here to read the full article by Dominique Wakefield from ACE.

kristen McAuliffe