Physical activity and exercise: what is the difference?

Physical activity is any movement performed by the musculature that results in energy expenditure. Physical exercises are systematic activities, with a sequence of movements to achieve a goal, usually related to health or aesthetics.

What is physical activity?

At rest, the body generally expends energy with its basic functions. A woman expends between 1,200 and 1,400 calories per day without physical activity. A man, on the other hand, expends more, about 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day at rest. However, any activity that moves the muscles of the body will result in higher energy expenditure, called physical activity. There are not many secrets, and because we are in motion almost constantly, we are physically active most of the time when we are not resting. The simplest actions are physical activities. Examples include the movement we produce when walking or dancing, running, going up and downstairs, among others. It is important to point out that any of these activities can already be considered as physical exercise if: it is systematized, has a specific objective, lasts for a certain period of time.

What is physical exercise?

Physical exercise is a systematic physical activity. Therefore, it has a specific duration, sequences of movements for different parts of the body and provides an increase in physical and athletic skills. In addition, physical exercise is an important ally for those who wish to gain muscle mass and improve the health of the cardiovascular system. It also stimulates the immune system, which has more strength to fight diseases. Obesity is also a disease that can be prevented by exercising and helping to control cholesterol. During exercise, hormones are released that help prevents depression and improve anxiety levels. Sports are physical exercises that provide health benefits. And also time for leisure and pleasure (which is also good for the human body). Among the types of physical exercise, there are four that are widely used by physical education professionals: strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. Within these four categories, there are several sports and exercises. Some of the most common are weight training, football, volleyball, basketball, swimming, martial arts… There are many other physical exercises, many of which can even be done at home.