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ActiveVoice - Physical activity vs. exercise: What's the difference?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


The role of Sport Bay of Plenty’s Green Prescription Lifestyle Coach is to provide support, motivation and information, to help Green Prescription clients develop a healthy lifestyle through sustainable physical activity, exercise and nutritional changes.

But what do we mean when we talk about physical activity and exercise – aren’t they the same thing?

Generally, physical activity and exercise can both be defined as any movement that works your body at a greater intensity than your usual level of daily activity. This type of movement raises your heart rate and works your muscles.

The term physical activity refers unplanned, everyday movement – from doing the gardening and washing the car, to walking to work or running around after the children.

Exercise, however, is planned, structured and repetitive actions, such as going for a run, participating in group exercise classes at the gym or playing social sports.

Both are important elements in leading a healthy lifestyle, and in order to counteract our increasingly sedentary lives, we need to work both into our busy schedule.

So where do we start? Take small steps to build physical activity into your daily routine. This could include taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to the shops rather than driving, going on a walking coffee date, or parking the car further away from the office and walking an extra few blocks.

When it comes to exercise, choose an activity you will enjoy and are therefore more likely to stick with on a regular basis. This could be anything from joining a sports club or group exercise class, to going for a swim at the local pool.

Exercising with friends and family is also a fun and sociable way to keep fit, and you will be able to keep each other motivated if one of you loses momentum.

Whatever you choose, make sure it works for you and your fitness levels, as suitable types of activity for one person may be too much or too little for another. If the most energetic part of your day is walking from your car to the office, then parking further away and walking at a quicker pace would be a good form of exercise for your body. However, a 5km run is maybe too much of a challenge too soon.

There are many benefits to being regularly active, including weight control, improved circulation, lower cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced stress and improved general wellbeing – all in all, putting the ‘zing’ back into your life!

For more information on Sport Bay of Plenty’s Green Prescription programme, talk to your GP or practice nurse, or visit our website.

See activity as an opportunity, not an inconvenience!

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