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Is Physical Activity The Same Thing As Exercise?


My father considers himself to be physically active. While he’s not overweight, he’s never been to a gym, gone for a jog or joined any organized fitness class. He’s 60 years old, has worked most of his life and now owns a few restaurants in Nashville and stays very busy between that and managing a few properties. A couple years ago he developed adult asthma, heart disease and was diagnosed with several herniated discs in his lower back. Not exactly the picture of health.


The subject of physical activity as a substitute for exercising is worthy of tackling head on.


Allow me to preface this article by saying that even SOME form of activity is WAY BETTER than nothing. If you’re an individual who considers themselves to be “physically active” but doesn’t spend dedicated time to exercise, let me first commend you for your good health intentions and encourage you to at least maintain that lifestyle.


SO, what’s the big difference then?

Aren’t you getting exercise when you’re physically active?


Not exactly. While you may be exerting effort sporadically throughout the day, you aren’t necessarily getting exercisethe purpose of exercise being to ENHANCE YOUR HEALTH. While you’re better off being physically active than sedentary, you still may not be doing enough.


Let’s dig a little deeper. Achieving certain health improvements requires that you exercise with a few basic parameters in mind like duration and intensity for example. Say you wanted to reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke or just improve your cardiorespiratory fitness...did you know that the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity? How do you know you’re actually achieving these standards when you’re being “physically active”? I would argue that you don’t.


The same could be said for building strength. For example, you build leg strength by strategically increasing load through your muscles in a specific range of repetitions, not because you’re standing on your feet all day. Yet, many people rationalize their daily activities are enough to absolve them from exercise. Again, I want to stress that being physically active throughout your day is awesome...but, you’re probably not getting all the health benefits that you would from dedicated exercise and that’s the important difference I want you to take away from this short read.


Getting started on a dedicated exercise routine can be as easy as going for a 10-minute walk each morning before work or during lunch. Slowly increase your duration and monitor your intensity level with a heart rate monitor or perceived exertion scale and always consult with your doctor before beginning a new program, especially if you have a chronic condition or disability.


Have fun and let us know what your favorite way to exercise is on our Facebook page!

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