Active Lifestyle vs. Exercise

The Difference Between Active Lifestyle and Exercise

It is a well-known fact that if you would like to live a long, healthy life, exercise needs to be a fundamental part of your plan. Unfortunately, many people associate “exercise” with a gym membership, expensive equipment, and 1-hour segments. While those can be part of the plan, they are far from the entire picture. In this article, we will discuss the difference between physical activity and exercise and why both are important for an overall active lifestyle to achieve health and longevity.


Exercise is defined as planned, structured, repetitive physical activity for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body. In other words, exercise is a purposeful activity to strengthen our bodies and our endurance.

woman exercising in a gymThere are 3 types of exercise – cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and stretching, and each play an important role in fitness. Dr. Sears tells us we need to get at least 20 minutes of exercise 5 days per week to maintain an active lifestyle.

The problem is, many people believe that when they spend 30 – 60 minutes working out that they’re “done for the day,” that the rest of the time can be spent sitting and relaxing. That is not the case, and that is where the importance of physical activity comes in.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is defined as bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure. In essence, physical activity is any kind of moving – carrying out the garbage, walking to the mailbox, vacuuming, washing your car, folding clothes, giving your child a bath – all of that is physical activity and results in an active lifestyle that burns calories. But it’s not just the calorie burning that is beneficial. Those activities may not seem important, but they contribute to an active lifestyle that keeps your body functioning as it was meant to function.

Humans were not designed to sit for extended periods of time. When we veg-out on the couch for a marathon session of Game of Thrones or even sit for hours at our desk cranking out a new business idea, it has harmful effects. The lack of an active lifestyle changes the way our bodies metabolize fats and sugars, affecting many of our systems, and increasing our risk of disease.

Get Moving

Here are a few simple ideas to get more make yours more of an active lifestyle:

  • Walk or pace when talking on the phone
  • Do crunches during commercials when watching tv
  • Park far from the store or mall
  • Do not use the drive-thru option at the bank or pharmacy
  • Wash your car yourself
  • Play Frisbee or catch with your child or dog
  • Limit screen time in your free time
  • Walk your dog or your neighbor’s dog
  • Work in a garden or community park

The lesson to be learned (and applied!) is to lead an active lifestyle. Make regular exercise an integral part of your week but remember to stay active and move throughout your day. It all counts.

Diane Yelich is a Certified Health Coach with the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. A passionate teacher, she switched her focus after 10 years, from elementary school to teaching adults about the 4 pillars of health: lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutrition. Another facet of her teaching is a cardio-fusion class she leads at a local senior recreation center. Diane has 3 grown children and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Through her business Nutrition Know-How, LLC, Diane shares her knowledge and enthusiasm to help empower others to create the lives they desire.