I’m often ask doctors, “If I don’t exercise at the gym but I am physically active is that just as good?”. Many people don’t know what the difference is. According to the World Health Organization, physical activity is defined as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure”. Whereas the WHO defines exercise as “a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective”. In other words, physical activity can be housework, picking children up, climbing stairs and gardening or any other daily activities that involve contracting the muscles. Most of these daily activities are considered to be light to moderate intensity. If done at a leisurely pace, such as walking then it is considered light intensity. One can increase the intensity by say, increasing the amount of time the activity is done or running up the stairs or carrying your child in specially designed back pack while vacuuming. Physical activity which is done on a regular basis can help to reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension, depression and risk of falls, just to name a few. It also helps with weight control as well as bone health.
Exercise, on the other hand, is a planned physical activity which is more structured and repetitive. Its main objective is physical fitness. Playing sports such as basketball, swimming, or soccer, working out with weights, biking and fast walking done vigorously and for an extended period of time on a regular basis making sure your target heart range is reached. How can you tell if it is vigorous or moderate exercise? Easy-with moderate level exercise you can talk while doing it. Vigorous exercise is when you have to stop to take a breath in between words. Exercising is a great way to increase endurance of your muscles and cardio-vascular system, builds muscle strength and improves flexibility. Reaching your target heart rate is very important while exercising which helps do all of the aforementioned benefits.
Also important is knowing your limit with either of these two things. Massage is a great way to help relieve tired, sore and overworked muscles. Epsom salt baths are also a great way to soothe your muscles as it adds magnesium stearate to them to help them heal as well as pull out toxins. Remember we are here if you need us!
Marie Pietras, LMT