Healthy Lifestyle Tips: The Difference Between Physical Activity and Exercise

Whether you’re a medical professional caring for someone at home, you’re interested in boosting your activity level, or you’re caring for a loved one, it’s essential to know the difference between activity and exercise. After a long day at work walking all day, you may think you’ve gotten all the exercise you need. As a healthcare provider, you don’t spend much time in a chair the way an office worker may.

However, it’s important to know, for yourself and your clients, moving around a home or hospital is movement or activity and not exercise.


Are You an Active Couch Potato?

If you’re a healthcare provider, the answer is probably NOT! You likely know a couch potato is someone who spends the majority of their day sitting. Unfortunately, that describes much of America today. Working in an office means hours behind a desk, commuting in a car, and then relaxing at home. Research calls this the sitting disease, and it increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, even when you exercise for 30 minutes every day.

This is an active couch potato – someone who is relatively inactive all day but is sure to get their exercise on most days. In some cases, this describes a person with a sedentary job, or it may be your loved one who is recuperating or aging at home.


What’s the Difference Between Activity and Exercise?

The distinction between these two is vital to your health and the health of your family members. All physical activity will contribute to building overall health and wellness, so you need both.

Sitting behind a desk or in a chair at home for four hours before getting up to sit at the table for a meal increases the risk of tightening muscles in the core and legs, which in turn increases the risk of falls. Sitting also increases the risk of a cardiovascular event.

Activity, or movement, occurs when the body is in motion. Seek to get up from your chair at least every hour for 10 minutes to walk around the room, grab a glass of water (hydration is always good!), or go to the bathroom. If standing for long periods is difficult, you could use this time to start preparing your next meal.

On the other hand, exercise is a planned, structured, and intentional movement during which your heart and breathing rates are elevated.  It helps to build heart and lung fitness, muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. Each of these factors is necessary to remain independent at home and to reduce the risk of falls that may place you at high risk for disability or death.

If standing is difficult or impossible, there are simple ways to exercise while sitting in a chair. Hand bicycles, hand weights, and chair aerobics are just a few. Exercise helps reduce pain, even in those with arthritis. It helps boost your mood and your outlook on life.


Would You Like Help Getting Your Loved One Moving?

It can be challenging to provide all levels of care for your family and be there to help them move throughout the day. Our home health care providers are experts at encouraging your loved one to get moving and keep moving. This helps improve their mental and physical health and reduces their risk of falls and multiple health conditions. Call us today! We’ll help you find the right care provider for your family.