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The 12 Days of Fitness – Day 7 – The Difference Between Exercise and Physical Activity

December 18, 2009 0 Comments

92835652Yes, you read that correctly.  “But I thought they were one in the same?” Well, technically, yes.  However, I’m here today to communicate the difference between what most consider body changing, health improving, body fat reducing exercise and physical activity.

What’s the Confusion?

A few years back, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published new Guidelines for Physical Activity.  In that list were your standard exercises, like walking, biking, strength training, etc. Then they went as far to list gardening and various common housework activities as exercise.  Huh?  When was the last  time you heard of someone with a physique attributed to window cleaning?  Or the Olympic sport of “Taking Out the Trash”? Sound ridiculous, doesn’t it?  You betcha!

Not All Exercise Is Created Equal

Physical activity is a good thing, no doubt about it.  However, often times people will give themselves more credit for getting exercise when in reality they’re moving, yes, but they would have been moving anyway.  The trash doesn’t take out itself; the clothes don’t walk down to the laundry room by themselves; and unless you’re tilling and shoveling acres, chances are gardening is just an up and down activity.  Physical activity but hardly exercise.

What’s Considered Exercise?

Exercise is structured physical activity that is above anything you would normally consider daily activity.  Whether it’s running, walking, cycling, lifting weights, tennis, basketball, paddling, etc., it doesn’t matter so long as it’s something not considered normal daily chores. Ahh hah! There it is.  Exercise IS NOT a chore. (contrary to what your belief is).  There was a time (eons ago) where physical activity was such a way of life that it could have been considered exercise.  Today, exercise is a means of replacing all of the physical activity we have deleted from our lives.

So get out and move.  And whatever your goal, know that there’s an appropriate exercise discipline and modality out there.  Just understand that it’s not a one size fits all approach and taking credit for something you know is just a rationalization for your laziness, is not fooling anyone but yourself.

See you tomorrow for Day 8 of my 12 Days of Fitness.

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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