Ottawa is home to some impressive walking paths and hiking trails, yet it was noted during the election these area are often “underused”? In chatting about this topic at the Life Therapies clinic, we came to realize that perhaps the newfound notion of what is means to “exercise” might be discouraging to those who could and should use these gems. Which brought us to this finer point: would it not be best to see more people being active as opposed to more people doing exercise? Let us clarify…
What’s the difference between exercising and being active?
According to an article ParticipACTION shared a few years ago:
Exercise is a modern invention. For millions of years humans got along just fine without it.
To be clear, humans were physically active. They hunted animals and foraged for food. They travelled great distances, but they didn’t exercise. At least not in the way we think of it today.
Exercise is technically defined as planned, structured, repetitive and intentional movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness, like endurance, flexibility and strength. It’s what you do when you go to the gym to get stronger.
Physical activity, on the other hand, includes all types of movement. Anything from running errands to washing your car. From walking your dog to dancing at a wedding. All exercise is physical activity, but not all physical activity is exercise. It’s a fingers and thumbs type situation.
Exercise, as a thing people do, really only became popular after WWII. It’s strange to think now, given its high prevalence in our society, but before the 1940s working out wasn’t common. Intentional exercise was rare.
Fast forward to today and exercise is everywhere. A colossal fitness industry has been built upon the notion that we need exercise. We need it to manage our weight. Our hearts need it. Our bones need it. Cardio and curls. Sit-ups and squats. The message that we all need more exercise is one we’ve become accustomed to hearing.
The problem is that it’s not entirely true. We all need to work our muscles, hearts and lungs. We need to be physically active. But strictly speaking, we don’t necessarily need to exercise.
So, if you’ve been struggling to get (back) into an exercise regime, ask yourself this:
What do I really need to do to get my heart-pumping physical activity each week?
For many people, the answer could be as simple as getting outside each and every day for a walk. That’s right – walking is great for both physical and mental health! Not to mention the fresh air, especially if you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors or sitting behind a desk, will do the mind, body and soul good.
If you are struggling to get moving or need a little extra something to put the pep in your step, ask us how the practitioners at Life Therapies can help!