Exercise and Physical Activity: What’s The Difference?

A movement that is made up of muscle contractions is defined as physical activity. All day long we are performing activities that involve movement gardening, housework, climbing stairs, walking each of these is an example of physical activity.

According to David Bassett, Jr., Ph.D. who is a professor at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Exercise, Sport and Leisure Studies, exercise is simply a certain type of physical activity. It is an activity that is purposeful and planned with the intention of becoming fit or gaining other healthful benefits. Often at health clubs, there are other forms of activity available such as running, sports like tennis and golf, cycling and swimming. These are all good types of exercise.

Physical Activity and Exercise: Understanding the Difference

Most of the physical activity that we do every day is moderate to light intensity. But there are specific benefits to health that can only happen when physical activity is very strenuous. For example, there are improvements in cardiovascular fitness. In another example, running or jogging provides more benefits to the cardiovascular system than unhurried walking. Also, enhancing fitness is not just dependent on the type of physical fitness that is done, it also matters if the exercise is done vigorously and how long the activity is continued. For this reason, it is very important that you exercise within the range of your target heart rate when you are performing cardio if you are trying to reach a specific intensity level.

Physical Activity and Exercise: Understanding Intensity

You are probably wondering if there is a way to distinguish moderate activity from vigorous intensity activity. The test is usually whether or not you can talk while you are exercising. If you can, it is moderate. If you need to stop after just saying a couple of words, it is vigorous. It is also dependent on your level of fitness. For example, a doubles game of tennis is probably a moderate level of intensity and a singles game is vigorous. Or ballroom dancing is moderate but aerobic dancing would be vigorous. So it is not the choice of activity, it is the amount you exert yourself.

Physical Activity and Exercise: Components of Physical Fitness

When deciding on an exercise program, it should have each of these elements:

Cardio-Respiratory Endurance  You will be able to improve your respiratory endurance, whether or not you can do aerobic exercise, by running, jogging, walking, jumping rope, swimming, cycling, cross-country skiing or rowing. As you become better at exercising, reset your intensity or distance goals or change to a new activity so that you will continue to challenge yourself.

Muscular Strength  The best way to boost your muscular strength is to lift weights, either weight machines or free weights, like dumbbells and barbells.
Muscular Endurance  Your muscular endurance can be improved by doing weight training, calisthenics for conditioning, swimming or running.

Flexibility You can work to improve your flexibility level with exercises for stretching as a regular part of the workout or through a separate activity such as pilates or yoga that have already incorporated stretching.

If you are active, it is possible for you to get all of these components of fitness by living a life that is physically active but you will get more benefits if you also have a regular exercise program.

A great place to start is by raising the total physical activity that you do every day ñ maybe park a couple of blocks away and walk to your destination. But if you are serious about becoming fit, you will need vigorous, structured activities that are part of your normal schedule. If you are able to do this you will be able to reach your health and fitness goals.

Diet Is Important For Proper Exercise

Dr. Sue Travis at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, says that in order to exercise, you have to have energy. Where can you get this energy? Well, it’s common knowledge that energy comes from food. Is there a right and wrong food to be eating though for exercise? Absolutely, and below you can see the types and amounts of food you should be eating in order to optimize your exercise routines.
Having the Right Diet for Exercise Is Critical
How much food you need to be eating will be different based on your age, weight, sex, and normal activity level. This is partial because a number of calories that you burn are not only dependent upon the types of exercises you do, but also how hard you are doing the exercises.
Dr. Travis also emphasizes that it is extremely important that your calorie consumption is split among protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates typically come in the forms of sugars and starches. The sugars and starches are digested by the body and then converted into glucose. Glucose is then used by your bodyís muscles for energy. Excess carbohydrates are converted and stored in the liver as glycogen which is released as your body requires it. Glycogen is what provides energy during prolonged endurance and high-intensity workouts. What are some great sources of carbohydrates? You can find carbohydrates in whole-grain bread, many different vegetables, whole grain cereals, fruit, pasta, and rice.
Protein: It is essential when exercising to have a diet rich in protein. This is because protein will slow the absorption of carbohydrates by your body down significantly. What are the top sources of protein in your diet? Protein abundance can be found in meat, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, and lentils. You want to try to consume about 3 ounces of protein containing foods every meal.
Fat: Fat is supposed always be bad, right? Not necessarily, and according to Dr. Travis, you will need fat in your diet as well. You should try to obtain your dietary fat from sources such as low-fat dairy products and lean meat cuts.
According to Dr. Travis, you should always try to have a varying combination of all three nutrient groups listed above with every major meal. An example of a healthy breakfast containing these nutrients would be a high-fiber cereal (such as whole-grain cereal or oatmeal), low-fat dairy such as 1% or skim milk, and a glass of juice or a fresh fruit such as an apple or banana. A quick healthy lunch would be something along the lines of a sandwich with lean meat, fish, or poultry on a whole-grain bread, and couple this with fresh fruit and raw veggies on the side.
While substitute food such as energy bars or protein bars can be useful, it is important not to use them as a full meal replacement, warns Dr. Travis. Look for bars that are low in sugars while having at least 10 g of protein and a few carbohydrates. You should avoid products that have a very high protein count but fall very short in their carbohydrate content.
Your Meal Timing Is Just As Important As Your Meals
If you are typically exercising early in the morning but not eating beforehand, you can quickly use all of your stored energy early on in your workout. If you prefer not to eat breakfast prior to exercising, try to eat at least a small piece of fruit before you begin your workout routine.
If youíre planning to have a very strenuous workout, you should consume a meal that is high in carbohydrates 3 to 4 hours prior to working out. You should also select foods which are easily digested and Dr. Travis suggests experimentation with different foods in order to determine which foods will give you the most energy.
Fluids Are Also Important
Perhaps the most important thing to always do is to ensure you are drinking enough fluids before, during, and after your workouts. If you are doing strenuous exercise, you should try to consume fluids even when you do not feel thirsty.
What are the best fluids to consume? Well, water is, of course, the best choice for most activities. If youíre going to be exercising continuously for at least 90 minutes or longer, you may want to consider drinking a sports drink as they contain electrolytes as well as carbohydrates. The key thing to remember is that sports drinks are specifically created for people who enjoy long endurance based workout regiments. For the average person beginning an exercise routine, sports drinks are not necessary and will simply add empty calories to your diet.
Be certain that the drinks you are consuming do not contain caffeine as caffeine is dehydrating. Dr. Travis recommends that you consume an equal amount of water if you are drinking coffee or any other caffeinated beverages.
Whatís the bottom line of fueling up for exercise? Well, basically if you are consuming enough fluids, eating healthy, regular well-balanced meals which include protein, carbohydrates, and fat, you will have all of the energy required for your upcoming workout plans.

Confession Of a Hater: I Hate Exercise

She was a hater of exercise, Lori Parch. As a writer, she had every reason to hate it. She was in her early 30s and living in New York at the time. It was a cold harsh winter and she was too busy, she was also tired. “I’ve no idea where to begin,” said she. At her age, and as the editor in chief of a great site and a very busy lady.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone, in fact, most American’s are right beside you in this endeavor. According to Adam Wright, a personal trainer in New York and a student in Sports and Exercise at Temple University, most people don’t want to be sweaty and uncomfortable. They don’t want to hurt. Most of them are over stressed and already hurting enough. Why on earth would they want more of this?

To be honest, approximately 80 percent of the population in the U.S. aren’t meeting the government’s guidelines for at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week.

Many are especially adverse to exercise and working out. In 2013, a study in the American Journal took the time to breed 26 active rats with one another and 26 lazy rats with one another. After just 10 generations they took a comparison on their brains and found 36 genes that play a role in motivation for exercise.

Our genes impact how we approach exercise. If we perceive something as a challenge, it is. If we perceive it as something we don’t want to do, we don’t want to do it. It’s that simple.

Given that response, it’s no wonder so many of us are out of shape. Here are some things that you can do it  you’re one of those who aren’t motivated and exercise isn’t your thing.

1. Redefine it

If I say the word exercise, you likely picture the gym and working out. How about looking at it differently? Consider alternatives such as ballet, gardening, yoga, lovemaking and more. It’s not as challenging then, is it? Exercise doesn’t have to be something that you don’t like to do. In fact, studies show that the more you enjoy an activity, the more likely you are to do it. It’s that simple.

Shift your mindset to activities that you enjoy and you’re much more likely to get in some exercise for your health, even if it’s not traditional exercise.  In a study conducted by the Surgeon General, a group of hotel maids was told that their jobs were meeting the guidelines for exercise. Within four weeks those maids hadn’t changed a thing about their day. However, they were losing weight and body fat. There were losing their blood pressure. Other maids, who hadn’t been given this information, were not having these benefits, why? Because they weren’t in the right mindset.

Perception is all in the eye of the beholder. How we perceive exercise is all in our minds and sometimes we just have to look at things differently.

2. Reminisce

In order for Parch to find a form of exercise that she loved, she had to force herself to consider something she appreciated and enjoyed. How? She had to focus on when she was a kid and liked racquetball, swimming, and softball.

If you find something you like, you’re much more likely to enjoy and appreciate it, you’re more likely to do the activity. Once Parch found something she liked, she enjoyed exercise. It didn’t matter what her attitude was, she was getting in the exercise and enjoying life once again.

Still feeling challenged? Still having a bad attitude about exercise? Find a positive memory of something you enjoyed as a child and you’re sure to find a great way to exercise and enjoy life. It’s fun and easy and you’ll appreciate that you took the time to do something for yourself. It is amazing how changing your  mindset can make such a huge difference in life, but it does and it’s a great way to go about liking exercise and being motivated to do it. Just try it, you’ll feel better.