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

Reduced Sitting Time May Help Improve Blood Pressure and Glucose

Americans spend more than 50% of their waking day sitting.  This can be especially prevalent in a work environment, particularly those with desk jobs.  Research has supported the finding that prolonged sitting is a risk factor for both all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.  Additionally, sitting has been found to be associated with high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

The four groups compared in the study.

The four groups compared in the study.

Recently, researchers looked to test the effects of various physical activity interventions aimed at reducing sitting time and improving health outcomes.  The four groups examined in their study include: 1) SIT – 9 hours of prolonged sitting, 2) 30-min MOD – 30 minutes of moderate-intensity walking performed mid-day, 3) 2-min MOD – 21 x 2 minute bouts of moderate-intensity walking performed every 20 minutes (42 minutes total), and 4) 2-min VIG – 8 x 2 minute bouts of vigorous-intensity walking performed once every hour.  Participants included both men and women classified as overweight/obese who were physically inactive. 

They found that both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity walking performed in 2 minute bouts had a significant effect on reducing blood glucose.  The group that showed the greatest results with both reduced blood glucose and reduced systolic blood pressure was the group that walked for 30 minutes mid-day.  Overall, the researchers conclude that in order to see improved health outcomes, we should reduce sitting time throughout the day.  While walking for 30 minutes over a lunch period can provide beneficial results, adding 2 minute breaks of walking every hours can help improve health outcomes.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing consultations specific to exercise and goal setting.  We can help assist with providing support for reducing sitting time and living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources:  Bhammar, D., Sawyer, B., Tucker, N., & Gaesser, G. (2017).  Breaks in sitting time:  Effects on continuously monitored glucose and blood pressure.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 49(10), 2119-2130.