Physical activity vs exercise
Physical activity refers to ANY movement of the joints and muscles of the body. But how does this differ from exercise? Exercise refers to planned, repetitive movement that is for the purpose of maintaining and/or improving fitness.
What are the benefits of movement?
We all know movement and physical activity is said to be beneficial, but how exactly does it benefit us? Well, the answer has quite a few parts to it. Moving our body can assist the brain’s cognitive function, our ability to learn, think, sleep as well as aid in mental well being (“Benefits of Physical Activity”, 2021).
Staying active can also reduce your health risk of developing many conditions. But it doesn’t stop there. By participating in aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities, you can reduce the rate at which your bones lose density as you age, build or maintain muscle mass and strength, maintain mobility of joints and the spine, as well as assist in pain management of conditions like arthritis and other rheumatic diseases (“Benefits of Physical Activity”, 2021).
For older adults, physical activity is strongly correlated to their ability to remain independent, reduce the risks of falls and reduce the consequences of such falls. By staying mobile, active and physically strong it really can improve quality of life (“Benefits of Physical Activity”, 2021).
But do we get enough movement in our day?
Unfortunately, a lot of us live a lifestyle that has us spending long periods of time sitting – whether that be working or studying at a desk, travelling, as well as how we choose to spend our down time – all those minutes add up! In 2017-2018, 1 in 2 adults (55%) did NOT meet the physical activity guidelines . Additionally, only 12% of children aged 5-12 and 2% of young people aged 13-17 met the minimum physical activity guidelines. Pretty scary!
What are the implications of not moving our bodies enough?
Knowing the benefits of physical activity and staying mobile, it is more than reasonable to conclude that not staying active can negatively affect your health and well being. In the short-term, individuals can experience reduced energy, poorer sleep quality, aches and stiffness throughout the body. As time goes on, this has a bigger impact globally on our health. From heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure, to reduced bone health, joint mobility and links to a decline in mental well being. The list goes on and research is often updating the list of conditions linked to reduced physical activity.
With this in mind, we have put together a list of ideas to easily add some movement into your day both at work and in your down time.
Easy ideas to add movement into your day
- Walk to work, or park further away from your office
- Go for a quick walk on your lunch break
- Take regular breaks to walk around or stretch. A good way to remember to take breaks is to set an alarm or have a glass of water sitting on your desk so that you need to get up to get a refill
- Get a standing desk
- Sit on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair
- Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator
- Get into the habit of standing and walking around your office when on the phone
During your free time
- Join a sporting or fitness team
- Sign up for a gym with group classes to provoke motivation, or subscribe to a home workout program if you feel more comfortable
- Walk to the grocery store if you only need a few items
- Park further away from the shops so that you get those extra steps in
- Opt for stairs instead of escalators in shopping centres
- Stretch or foam roll while watching television so that you spend less time sitting
- Spend more time in the garden
- Catch up with your friends to do something active! Grab a coffee and go for a walk.
- Set mini goals – the easiest are to spend less time stationary and aiming for a particular number of steps per day. Alternatively, you could aim to walk a certain distance per week, it’s all up to you! This has become very easy to keep track of with smart phones and watches.
By incorporating movement into your day, it can have a massive, positive impact on your health and well being. The minutes spent sitting accumulate very quickly in our current lifestyle with work, travel, study etc., so adding little bits of movement throughout the day is a step in the right direction. What is stopping you from moving your body?
- Benefits of Physical Activity. (2021). Retrieved 15 March 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm