#Wellnesswednesday and #workouwednesday are perfect hashtags for figuring out if there is a difference between physical activity and physical exercise. People say they “get their exercise” from cleaning the house, taking care of young children, gardening/mowing the lawn, etc. While those activities do take energy and make you tired after a few hours or all day of doing them, are they truly exercise?
The medical definition of physical activity is the quality or process of exerting energy or of accomplishing an effect. Per the definition, physical activity does result in fatigue from exerting energy for any duration. Nothing is specific about what kind of process or the purpose of that process. Also, nothing is mentioned about health related benefits. Is physical activity important to an overall healthy lifestyle? The answer is absolutely yes. You need to be physically active at some point during the day to engage various muscles of the body and elevate your heart rate above its resting state. The definition applies to all age groups, there is no discrimination. After cleaning the house or mowing the lawn, the physical activity does have a caloric use value, and possibly enough muscle contractions to have a growth or strengthening effect.
The medical definition of physical exercise is physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body. Exercise is used to improve health, maintain fitness and is important as a means of physical rehabilitation. Exercise is a physical activity, but so much more! Back to mowing the lawn and cleaning the house, those activities are not planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body. To say “I got my exercise today because I cleaned the house,” is false. Cleaning the house is NOT exercise.
For children and adults over 65 there are various guidelines from the CDC on how much physical activity and physical exercise each group needs per day and week. Be sure you know what is appropriate for your current fitness level and seek professional help when appropriate. Let us be honest with ourselves when we look in the mirror and see the results of physical exercise in our lives. Similar discussion to being busy vs productive, know the difference and make the changes in your life. The internet has allowed everyone of all income levels to have resources and information about physical exercise, take advantage of it. Living longer, healthier, and happier are pretty good reasons to exercise for a healthy and active lifestyle.
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