Physical Activity Vs. Exercise: What Is The Difference?

Physical activity Vs. exercise – what could the difference be? Most of us are often confused between physical activity and exercise. Some also believe that physical activity doesn’t warrant the need for daily exercise. But what does science say? How is physical activity different from exercise? What benefits do both offer? Here, we answer your queries and help you start your journey to optimal health. Keep reading.

Physical Activity Vs. Exercise: What’s The Difference?

Physical Activity

Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that expends energy. Physical activity may improve your health and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease (1). Additionally, physical activity reduces the risk of premature death by many diseases (2). There are many different types of physical activities, like dancing, climbing stairs, doing household work, or gardening. You can choose any physical activity depending on your age, comfort, and availability of time.

The amount of energy required to accomplish any physical activity can be measured in kilocalories (3). Every activity you perform that results in a calorie-burn is termed as physical activity. The activities can vary from person to person and is highly associated with one’s occupation and age. Physical activity is also associated with improved mental health and well-being (4).Regular physical activity may also boost one’s immune system (5). Such activity doesn’t always have to be planned, and often results in significant calorie expenditure. That said, it is not the same as exercise.


Exercise is mainly defined as training your body to improve its functions and gradually increase its fitness. Exercise needs to be planned and executed as a regime for visible results. It is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposefully focused on the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness (6). Tasks regularly performed in a planned manner are termed exercises.

Anthony Puopolo, a Physician, says that physical activity is exactly the word it connotates: movement. Walking, standing up and sitting down, and regular day-to-day tasks can be called “physical activity.” Exercise, however, is something that produces an aerobic or anaerobic response. It places strain on your body so that your body heals itself and grows stronger. It also keeps your body running efficiently and maintains your health.

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