Does that title make you scratch your head? Keep reading and it will become clear (and may change the way you think about exercise)
What comes to mind when you think of the word exercise?
Is it pain, discomfort, fatigue, time, ugh!?
The word exercise has come to be known as something that challenges your body, and this is partly true. But we often think a challenge has to be painful, uncomfortable, or sweaty to be beneficial. The ‘no pain no gain’ saying has been so connected to exercised for so long that we often say things like ‘I felt a good sore’. We often discount something as ‘not counting’ because it does not cause a sweat, burn lots of calories or get your heart rate up.
The word exercise can have so much ‘baggage’ that there is a trend to use the words physical activity or movement instead of exercise. This works because studies have certainly shown that some movement is way better than nothing when it comes to the healthy benefits of moving your body.
But what are we missing out on when we choose loosen the meaning of the word exercise?
Physical activity is any bodily movement. It includes all of the movements you do for daily life; cleaning, yard work, job-related, child care, elder care, walking to get somewhere.. and exercise.
Exercise is movement done for the specific purpose of improving a skill or ability in your body (or your brain). When you are doing anything to improve a skill or ability it takes more planning and attention. When you do that activity on a regular basis, it will get easier. This process is true for learning how to knit, speak a foreign language, or play a video game. Its true for physical activities and movements you want to be easier too.
So exercise is when you do a physical activity in a specific way to make it easier.
Most physical activities are moving to get something done, to take care of something or someone. Some can be very difficult for your body. Some can be very easy for your body. Some you do every day. Some you only do once a year. But most are not done for the purpose other than taking care of your body, they are to get something done.
When you exercise, the way you move and how challenging it is for your body is up to you.
When you do a physical activity, the way you move and how challenging it depends on the task you are trying to get done.
Exercise then, can be easier for your body and your mind than some of the physical activities you need to do for your life.
So, I propose keeping physical activity and exercise separate. Why? Because exercise is for self-care. When we call physical activity exercise, we miss that part of it. And who could not use more self-care these days?
This week, ask yourself: How can I protect my exercise time and keep it about self-care?
Keep Moving, Be Well,