Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

What Is Physical Activity & Fitness?

Figure with backpack hiking energetically through snow

Did you know:

  • Exercise is a form of physical activity,
  • But physical activity does not require exercise.

What's the difference?

Physical activity is more than exercise

  • Exercise is a structured program of activity geared toward achieving or maintaining physical fitness. It is actually a sub-category of physical activity.
  • Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. Some of your daily life activities—doing active chores around the house, yard work, walking the dog—are examples.

Both can include aerobic, flexibility, and muscle-strengthening activities.

Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier. These include:

  • Walking
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics
  • Jogging and running
  • Aerobic exercise classes
  • Bicycle riding (stationary or on a path)
  • Some gardening activities, such as raking and pushing a lawn mower
  • Tennis
  • Golfing (without a cart)

Muscle-strengthening activities build up your strength. These activities work all the different parts of the body—legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms—and include:

  • Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
  • Lifting weights
  • Push-ups on the floor or against the wall
  • Sit-ups
  • Working with resistance bands (long, wide rubber strips that stretch)
  • Pilates

Flexibility-enhancing activities ensure a good range of motion in the joints. Loss of flexibility can be a predisposing factor for physical issues, such as pain syndromes or balance disorders. Gender, age, and genetics may all influence range of motion. Flexibility exercises include:

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi or Qi Gong
  • Pilates

What is fitness?

Fitness includes cardiovascular functioning, which is improved by aerobic activities that get your heart and lungs working faster. It also includes muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.