Which is Better- Exercise or Movement?

Photo Credit Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Spring is finally upon us. For those of us in the northern hemisphere I must say we had quite a challenging winter 2018. What with the polar vortex and all. Even my dogs didn’t look forward to going on their daily walks on those cold days.

As the temperatures get warmer and the days get longer there is a tendency for us to want to spend more time outdoors.  Some of us may have packed on a couple of “winter pounds” for a myriad of reasons- less activity, more comfort food, being in “hibernation mode” (I know I have :).

And there belies the question- which is better for you- Exercise? Or movement?

Caution: Before starting an exercise program, please consult your healthcare provider to ensure that you are safe to start a moderate intensity exercise program.

There is a myriad of benefits to exercise. For some of its benefits, check out a post I wrote here.

There are four types of exercise.

  • Aerobic (cardiovascular exercise)
  • Resistance (strength training) exercise
  • Flexibility
  • Balance

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that a well-balanced exercise program consists of all four types.

The US Surgeon general, recommends in order to improve our health and wellbeing that we need to exercise at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of intense activity every week.

As I type these numbers, it doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of time.  And yet it almost seems hard for us to squeeze in that 75-150 minutes a week.  I mean I know that I come up with reasons sometimes that I’m not able to set aside time to exercise 30 minutes 5 times a week.  According to the CDC only 23.5% of adult Americans perform aerobic and strength training weekly.

Research shows that being sedentary

A sedentary lifestyle is if you are not participating in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 3 days a week for at least 3 months.

Having said all that, do you know that between 6-8 hours is spent in sedentary behavior.  I happen to wear a fitness device called an oura ring, and it sends me an alert every hour advising me to get up and stretch.

You may be someone that goes to the gym, does a daily run, etc., but how much activity you spend doing the rest of your day is also important. 

I find it very intriguing that even though I may have gotten in a workout on my peloton bike, at the end of the day the activity score shown on my oura ring is pretty low if I do not keep moving throughout the day.

So now you can see that even if you are someone who exercises regularly, that you could still fit into the “sedentary behavior” basket.

You may have heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking”? Well, that is because sitting time increases our all-cause mortality.

Now let me be honest, if you are that person who is the true definition of sedentary for whatever reason, I do not expect to get you to jump off the couch and go follow the surgeon general’s recommendations. I know this because, throughout my clinical career, I have actually had patients that

So there comes the concept of movement. Movement is merely the act of moving our bodies.  

There is a concept called nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). It is the energy we expend performing activities that are not sleeping, sitting or related to exercise. When we increase NEAT we can improve our overall exercise expenditure.

So how can we improve NEAT? By increasing everyday movement.

So here are some suggestions to increase movement throughout your day:

  • Set a reminder to take a 2-3 minute walk every hour.
  • Get a dog and walk it every day. 🙂
  • If you work in an office, work toward spending at least half of your office time standing, moving or doing light intense activities such as stretching, chair dips, lunges, etc.
  • Ditch the remote control and get up to manually change the TV/cable channel.
  • Purchase a fitness tracker and work up to and beyond 10,000 steps a day
  • If you are sedentary for whatever reason, perform exercises such as leg lifts, arm circles, biceps curls.
  • If you have to drive, park further and walk.
  • Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  • In between commercials on TV stretch, do some jumping jacks, chair dips, lunges, wall pushups, etc.
  • If you take your child to their after-school activity, take that time to do some movement yourself rather than sitting around watching your child. 😉

In summary, both increasing physical activity, as well as movement which improves NEAT, are equally important. None should be done to the exclusion of the other.

Until next time,

To your Health & Wellbeing,

What do you think?

When you hear the word “exercise” what does that bring up in you? What are some ways that you can think of to increase your physical activity?

I would love to hear your comments. Send me an email at info@doctoreno.com