What's the difference between physical activity and exercise?

It’s easy to get confused when you hear people say that you should get 30 minutes of exercise a day. Does that mean that every time you walk to and from places in the house it adds up to count as your 30 minutes? Or does the 30 minutes have to all occur at one time? Let’s break it down and talk about the difference between exercise and physical activity.

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. For example, walking back and forth from the kitchen, walking into work from your car, climbing stairs, and even carrying groceries are all considered physical activity. You can also think of physical activity as movement needed for activities of daily living.

Next let’s talk about exercise. Exercise is defined as planned, structured, and repetitive physical activity done to improve and/or maintain physical fitness. For example, going to the gym to walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill or lifting weights, swimming, etc. are all considered exercise.

The next question is, “Do I have to do all 30 minutes at once?” and the answer is no. Even 10-minute bouts of planned exercise can add up to be your 30 minutes. Now that you understand what exercise is, we at the HLC challenge you to get 30 minutes of exercise per day. You’ll be amazed at how it will make you feel. If you need some help on what types of exercises you should be doing, call and schedule an appointment with us.

 By Kerygan LaVine

Sources: American College of Sports Medicine, In Riebe, D., In Ehrman, J. K., In Liguori, G., & In Magal, M. (2018). ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Photo by Gervyn Louis on Unsplash