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Congratulations!  You’re one month into the year and I hope you’ve kept up with your New Year’s resolution; specially the one of being ‘MORE active‘.  Hopefully, you had a chance to read my previous post, which made you think that loosing weight should be secondary and that getting healthier and reducing the time we spent sitting is most important.I hope you acknowledge my challenge and noticed how much time you spend sitting during the day (leave a comment below if you did and do not mind sharing).  Research suggest that most people sit for about 9.5 hours a day, which is about 2-hours more than most people sleep.  Yes, you read that correctly, we sit more than we sleep!  Yet, we seem to always be “tired”… how could that possibly be so? (We’ll tackle that question on another post…)

Over the last several years, there has been a shift as to how we study physical activity.  Whereas before we measured how much exercise people actually did, today we’re becoming more concern with measuring how much time people engage in sedentary pursuits.  And, public health official are beginning to shift the message from “exercise more” to simply “sit less.”

Yet, you may ask “well, what is the difference between exercising and being physically active? Well, the truth is that they are not the same, even though they are usually used interchangeably.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines these terms as follows (GETP 2010):

  • Physical Activity – any bodily movement produced by the contraction of muscles that result in a substantial increase over resting energy expenditure.
  • Exercise – is a type of physical activity consisting of planned, structured, and repetitive bodily movements done to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness.

For the purpose of this post, the components of physical fitness improved or maintained by exercise are ‘health-related’ components and include:

  • Body composition – the relative amounts of muscle, fat, bone and vital parts of the body.
  • Cardiovascular endurance – ability of the cardiorespiratory system to supply oxygen during sustained physical activity.
  • Muscular strength – ability of muscles to exert force.
  • Muscular endurance – ability of muscles to continue to perform without fatigue.
  • Flexibility – range of motion available at a joint.

As you can see, exercise is much more structured than physical activity.  However, we know that increasing your physical activity throughout the day will elicit positive effects in your health and prolong your life.

So, if you can’t make it to the gym because life “gets complicated,” check out some simple ways you can become more active throughout the day by downloading ACSM’s publication Reducing Sedentary Time.  Or, you can check out Prevention magazine’s recently published article, which although titled “100 Simple Ways To Lose Weight” it should have been titled “100 Simple Ways to add more Physical Activity to your day.”

Until next time; Be active!

Dr. Feito

Disclaimer: The attached file (Reducing Sedentary Time) is virus FREE and has been downloaded from the official site of the American College of Sports Medicine website as a free-resource.  Dr. Feito does not claim having publishing rights to such publication.