Are You Active or Trying to Get Fit? There is a Difference.
You take the clipboard and began filling out personal information in a medical office. “How many times a week are you active?” it asks. You scratch your chin, thinking about how housework, gardening, walking, climbing stairs — are examples of physical activity. So you say “5 times a week.”But is it really the kind of activity the form is asking about?
Let’s be clear on one thing: exercise is a specific form of physical activity — planned, purposeful physical activity performed with the intention of acquiring fitness or other health benefits. All those other things you considered activity? Call it “movement” instead. Exercise means working out at a health club or with a personal trainer, swimming, cycling, running, or participating in a sport like tennis or volleyball.
Truth be told, even if you huff a bit after climbing the stairs a few times a day, most daily physical activity is considered light to moderate in intensity. The health benefits that can only be accomplished with more strenuous physical activity are geared toward improvement in cardiovascular fitness, such as jogging or running. That doesn’t mean a leisurely walk down the bike trails with a friend. Any activity is measured by how vigorously and for how long you continue it. That same leisurely walk combined with a jog every so many hundred feet can be better for you than strolling, becauseyou are pushing yourself toward your target heart rate.
How can you tell if an activity is considered moderate or vigorous in intensity? If you can talk while performing it, it's moderate. If you need to stop to catch your breath after saying just a few words, it's vigorous.
Elements of physical activity include cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility. While it's possible to address all of these fitness components with a physically active lifestyle, an exercise program can help you achieve even greater benefits.
Don’t get me wrong. Increasing the amount of physical activity in your everyday life is a good start — like choosing a parking spot at the far end of the lot and walking back and forth.But true fitness goals should incorporate structured, vigorous activities into your schedule.
And when those muscles get sore from exercise (that is a good sore), I have the perfect solution!