We hear the words physical activity and exercise used interchangeably. Yet, there is a distinct difference between the two that is a key to getting the benefits and staying motivated for doing both.
Physical activity. Any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above a basal level. – Centers for Disease Control
Physical activity is an umbrella term for any movement; activities related to your job, housework, yard work, play, recreation, exercise, etc. Any level and duration and type counts. As long as you are moving your body in some way it counts as physical activity.
Exercise. A subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective. – Centers for Disease Control
Exercise is when we do a physical activity in a structured way in order to improve stamina, strengthen or mobility (physical fitness). Exercise is done with the focus on our body, not on another activity. It is the same process for learning any other new skill, like a new language or a musical instrument. Your brain and body need to be working together with your full focus in order to improve that skill.
Physical activity is for the purpose of doing something else– cleaning the house or doing your job.
Exercise is when our focus is on the physical activity itself in order to improve it in some way.
So exercise practice – for the purpose of making physical activities you want and need to do every day easier, less tiring, less straining for your body. Just like learning any other new skill, it is something you set aside time to practice. Even a little bit of practice done consistently and with your full focus will make that skill easier.
The great news is, both regular physical activity and exercise improve health, burn calories, and boost longevity. Both are powerful health habit.
- Get physical activity every day in small bouts during the day. Every 30 minutes of inactivity get up and move in some way.
- Spend 2.5 hours a week (30 minutes five days a week) dedicated just to exercise (practice) time. Split that time between stamina building cardio and strength building strength training. This will make the physical activities you want and need to do easier.
Create these two powerful health habits and enjoy the MANY benefits of both physical activity AND exercise.
Keep Moving, Be Well
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These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.