For many of us, when we are told that we should increase our levels of physical activity in our daily life, we groan- either inwardly or outwardly. We recognize that we need to move more for our health, but the thought of wandering into a gym or going for a run stops us in our tracks. So, what is our best course of action?
Is physical activity the same as exercise?
Physical activity and exercise are not the same things. Exercise is a planned movement that improves your fitness and health, whereas physical activity is any movement that a person does.
Examples of exercise:
Examples of physical activity:
- Taking the stairs to your destination
- Putting your dishes away, one at a time
- Vacuuming your entire home
- Carrying in your groceries
- Biking to go on your errands
Both types of movement can be beneficial to your health. In fact, in many of the “blue zones” of the world, much of the physical fitness that these long-lived people achieve comes from their daily tasks, such as taking care of farm animals instead of spending hours at the gym.
What is physical fitness?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, physical fitness is “good health and strength achieved through exercise.”
That being said, you can be in great shape simply by doing regular amounts of physical activity, such as taking care of a garden. You don’t have to invest in a personal trainer to feel your very best!
What are the benefits of physical activity?
When you put an emphasis on moving more in your day, you will achieve several benefits, such as:
- More energy overall
- Increasing your daily step count
- Exercising your heart rate
- Reducing sedentary and sitting time
- Giving you a sense of accomplishment
- Building functional strength
- Promoting better health
- Adding a sense of enjoyment in life.
Incorporating stretching into your physical activities
Whether you are just getting more active at home or spending time at the gym, stretching is essential to keep your body moving without injury.
Before you engage in any sort of strenuous activity, be sure to do at least about 5-10 minutes of warm-up stretching, which is typically more active stretches, with short holds. This helps to prevent injuries and to perform your best right from the start.
It is also a great idea to do some longer-held cool-down stretches after serious activity, be it household labour or an intense sport. This promotes good circulation that allows your body to recover more efficiently.
Breaking down how to increase your physical activity and movement in a day.
It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of regular physical activity in a week. While this may seem daunting, it is roughly only about 20 minutes a day, and you don’t have to do it all at once. Try incorporating these tips to get your body moving!
- If you use public transit, try getting off one stop earlier and walking a little bit further.
- Do a 10-minute stretching routine as a mental reset in the middle of the day.
- Set aside time to vacuum and mop the floors at least once a week. (This also helps to keep your house cleaner!)
- Take movement breaks when you sit down, where every hour you get up and move around for 1-5 minutes before getting back to work.
- Add a desk pedaller or exercise ball to your work set-up or while you’re watching tv.
- If you have small kids running around, play a game of tag with them.
- Take more than one trip to carry your groceries into your house.
- Play an instrument or start singing. (Even if you’re sitting down, your body is moving, you’re refining your motor skills, and you’re working your brain!)
- Enjoy a game of twister with your loved ones!
- Visit a museum, art gallery, or another type of event.
- Have a mini dance party- either on its own or while you clean!
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This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns.
Written by Kayla Willsey