What’s the difference between physical activity and exercise?
Physical activity is any bodily movement that requires you to use energy. All physical activity can improve your physical fitness. The more you move, the more you improve!
Exercise is a more repetitive bodily movement, which is planned and structured to
improve/maintain your physical fitness.
As you can see from these definitions, exercise and physical activity can have the
same desired effects with regards to general fitness.
How much physical activity do you need?
The recommended amount and intensity of aerobic exercise varies according to
your goals. For general fitness, Diabetes UK provide the following guidelines:
For adults aged 19-64:
150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week
of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.
Muscle-strengthening activities should also be included twice a week. Activity can
be spread throughout the day as bite-size chunks, e.g. 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
What is classed as ‘physical activity’?
Lots of different everyday tasks require physical activity. Walking, cooking, household chores, gardening - even standing up out of your chair! They all require energy, and count towards your recommended daily amount of physical activity.
But they are just a few of the things you can do to improve your health. If you’re looking for more ways to become physically active, try the game below to help you come up with some great ideas to reach your daily target:
Game: The A-Z of Physical Activity and Exercise
Try to think of at least one physical activity or exercise for every letter of the
alphabet. You can include sports, or fun games which require a lot of energy. Here
are a few examples to get you started:
What is ‘moderate’ physical activity?
Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song. You should be slightly out of breath.
What is ‘vigorous’ physical activity?
Vigorous-intensity activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
The bottom line
Exercise doesn’t just mean high intensity workouts at the gym. All kinds of everyday activities count too, from washing up to hanging the washing out– and they can all bring you closer to losing weight or managing your Type 2 diabetes.
Remember: get moving to start losing!
Meet the authors Carl Lumsden and Kirsten Ashley on our team page .
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