Active or exercising – what’s the difference?

Active or exercising – what’s the difference?

What is the difference between being active and exercising, and does it matter? Being active during the day AND dedicated exercise are both needed to say healthy, as they are independent risk factors. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day is a risk factor, even if you spend an hour in the gym every day.  But in the same vein, being active and out and about all day, but not doing any focused exercise is also bad for your health. See where we’re going with this?


So what is the difference?

Basically the key difference between being active and actually exercising can be boiled down to the degree of exertion you’re putting into the activity. If your heart rate and your breathing increases, you are exercising. If you get hot and sweaty while doing an activity, you are exercising. 


Here are two easy ways to measure your exercise intensity


1. Heart Rate
Measuring your actual heart rate as a percentage of your maximum heart rate can be a quick and accurate way of measuring the intensity of your exertion. To do this, use the formula below.

(Measured heart rate / [220-age]) x 100 e.g. (89 / [220-46]) x 100 = 51%

Once you have worked out the answer, compare it to following zones to see how hard you are working:

Moderate intensity: 50-70% of HR max
Vigorous intensity: 70-85% of HR max


2. Talk test
If you cant be bothered doing calculations and counting your heart rate, this test is for you.


Low intensity: If you can talk and sing while you are working out, you are not exercising hard enough.


Moderate intensity: If you can hold a conversation, but not sing you are probably working in the moderate intensity zone.


Vigorous intensity: If you can only manage a few words at a time while exercising, you are likely working out in the vigorous intensity zone.


Recommended exercise guidelines


The current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination per week. So, how do you work out how much to exercise and for how long in order to meet the recommendations? Let’s say you do 3 vigorous intensity sessions lasting 15 minutes each a week. This will equate to 90 minutes moderate intensity training for that week. If you then add two 30 minute brisk walks on two more days, you’ve met the recommendations!


As you can see, you don’t need to spend hours in a gym to stay healthy.


Get those runners on and get going! Happy exercising!

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