What Actually Is Exercise

What Actually Is Exercise

Most people have a radical misunderstanding of what exercise actually is and what it is not. In addition, this problem is compounded by naive trainers and fitness enthusiasts that possess this same lack of understanding and as a result lead consumers down a path that actually does more harm than good.  Exercise IS NOT merely physical activity as so many tend to believe. However, In order to fully understand exercise we must first understand both Health and Fitness.

Health: a physiological state in which there is an absence of disease or pathology.

Fitness: the bodily state of being physiologically capable of handling challenges that exist above a resting level of activity.

Understanding the difference between health and fitness allows us to provide the following definition of exercise:

Exercise: a specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former.

The important distinction here is that exercise must improve both our health and fitness while not sacrificing one or the other. We make the mistake of assuming that health and fitness are inextricably tied in that as one goes up the other does accordingly. However, this is not always the case and oftentimes people actually end up hindering their health while attempting to improve their fitness.

A glaring example of this is the ever popular activity of running/jogging. This activity is often the go to choice of physical activity when attempting to improve our fitness but it comes at a big expense of our health in the form of soft tissue injuries, stress fractures, joint pain and inflammation, osteoarthritis, osteocytes, sciatica and disc compression injuries just to name a few. Running is most certainly not the only culprit here; participating in virtually any sport, biking, paddle boarding, and even performing various types of yoga pose similar risks to our health while attempting to improve our fitness.

The next time you consider exercising, pause for a second run it through the filter of does this enhance BOTH my health and fitness or does it aim to do one while posing a risk to the other. Then decide if you are willing to take that risk and proceed accordingly.

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