Physical Activity and Exercise

Posted on August 18, 2010

Physical Activity:  any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that result in a substantial increase over resting energy expenditure.

Examples: taking the stairs, lifting heavy objects as part of work, etc.

Exercise:  a type of physical activity consisting of planned, structured and repetitive body movement done to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness.

Examples: spin class, yoga, planned run/walk/swim/bike ride, weight training program, etc.

A lot of people, myself included, use these two terms interchangeably.  Just wanted to share what they really mean. 

Bottom line:  Physical activity AND exercise are important for good health.  It doesn’t really matter what you call it… movement is good. 

[From ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th edition].

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