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Exercise vs. Physical Activity

Oct 06, 2020


Physical Activity vs. Exercise:  Why you need both!


Over the past few weeks, months, or years that you have been a part of Grow Young Fitness, you have heard me say over and over that a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise is essential to good health.


You have also heard me say the phrase “KEEP IT MOVING” countless times.


The latest research suggests that how much time we spend sitting, (not while we exercise) could be just as important as how much time we spend exercising.


In fact, a new term called “active couch potatoes” describe those who exercise, but spend the majority of their days being sedentary. 


How did you spend your last 24 hours? 

How many hours did you spend sitting down? 

How many hours did you spend moving?


An active couch potato refers to someone who is inactive for the majority of the day, but regularly makes sure to get in 30 minutes of exercise on most days. This sitting can be during leisure time, work, commuting to and from work, and while eating meals.


In other words, almost completely physically inactive throughout the day, with the exception of that 30 or so minutes of daily exercise.


Although 30 minutes of exercise is absolutely beneficial and healthful, the rest of the day is causing health hazards. Physical inactivity is a huge risk factor for chronic disease development and it is now the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. 


So, exactly how do we differentiate between exercise and being physically active?


Physical activity is movement that is carried out by the skeletal muscles and requires energy. In other words, any movement you do is actually physical activity. 


Exercise, however, is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness. Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity. ( workouts are exercise!)


Research shows significant evidence that all physical activity positively contributes to overall health and well-being. Exercise also improves your physical fitness.  Both daily physical activity AND structured exercise should be a part of your routine. 


How Can You Become More Physically Active?


An easy way to start transforming a sedentary lifestyle into a more active one is to begin standing more and sitting less.  If you spend an hour or so watching TV, standing up and walk around/march in place for at least 5 minutes per 30 minutes of TV!


When you engage with technology such as social media, creatively think about how you can move more. For every hour on social media, get up and walk around for 10 minutes.


When on the phone, walk around during the talk for half of the phone call…


Having a Fitbit or step tracker is a great way to see how active or inactive you are.


There are countless opportunities to increase daily physical activity, but you do have to look for them. (EVEN when staying in your house.)


Evaluate your activity in a typical 24-hour period. Then consider making a detailed plan that includes both elements!  Make sure you have increased daily physical activity.  Also add time for structured, planned, and intentional exercise to improve physical fitness 


Omitting one or the other can have serious consequences for your health, fitness and overall well-being. Don’t be a couch potato or an active couch potato!  Make the change today and add BOTH elements to your life to feel the life-changing benefits of physical activity and exercise. 


What will you do to increase physical activity?


What will you do to increase how much you exercise?

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