Local Expert Series: Exercise vs. Physical Activity
By: Dan Curtis, PT, DPT, MTC
Generally speaking, physical activity is considered any movement of the body or exercise that uses energy. Walking from your car to your office and taking the stairs instead of the elevator are examples of physical activity. Physical activity that is planned, structured and repetitive is considered exercise. Going for a run, swimming laps in the pool and lifting weights are examples of exercise.
How Much Physical Activity Should I Get?
Recommendations exist from several organizations such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services on the amount and type of physical activity that is recommended for an individual (usually based on age).
The links at the bottom of this article lay out those recommendations.
Exercise For Everyone
A common mistake made is thinking that the physical activity guidelines do not apply to an individual with certain medical conditions. While these guidelines may require some adjustment for certain medical conditions, they apply to individuals of all races, ethnicities, gender and social factors. They also apply to individuals with non-communicable medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Certain individuals, such as women who are pregnant or recently gave birth, or individuals with heart problems, may need to seek medical advice before applying the physical activity guidelines to themselves.
Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases are the top causes a death of individuals in the US. People who are obese are at an increased risk for these medical conditions. Often, the lack of physical activity is a common link between all of these problems. By increasing the amount of physical activity you perform each day, you can help address any of these chronic medical conditions but better yet, prevent them from starting in the first place.
When it comes to physical activity, something is better than nothing. Anyway that you are able to increase the amount of physical activity performed each day can provide significant health benefits. There are many simple ways that you can increase your daily physical activity: park farther away in a parking lot instead of driving around waiting for the closest spot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and go for a walk during your lunch break.
There is a common saying which holds true: Exercise is the best medicine!
About the Author
Danis the outpatient supervisor for Health Central Hospital’s Rehabilitation Services department. He joined the department in 2008 with his responsibilities consisting of patient care and administrative duties. Prior to joining the team he served in a variety of managerial and supervisory roles. Dan is responsible for oversight of a department of 10 team members, consisting of a multi-disciplinary staff of clinicians (physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech and language pathologists) as well as front office and support staff. He is the coordinator of all student interns and volunteers within the department.
Dan has over 16 years of experience as a clinician, the majority of his practice being in the outpatient and sports medicine setting. During his time with Health Central he has focused on growing programs and services, initiatives focused on quality of care, improving patient access to rehabilitative care, and implementation of an electronic documentation system for which he serves as the administrator.