Being Active vs. Working Out

It has been awhile since either myself or Missy has been on our “soap box” about anything. Seeing as we are both a tiny bit opinionated at times, you could probably have guessed this was only a matter of time. :)  In today’s blog post I want to discuss the difference between leading an active lifestyle and actually working out.

We all hear the recommendations out there. Park in the farthest spot at the grocery store. Take the stairs at work. Walk from the train. Dog owners are more active so take your dog for a walk daily. Pace back and forth while you talk on the phone. The list goes on and on… I’m sure you could add to it. I am all for incorporating activity into your life anywhere you can. I wear a fitbit and on any given day at least half of my steps are not taken during a “designated workout” so I do incorporate these “active” things as well.

However, I am going to go out on a limb and say that these sort of activities do not replace the importance of a real workout – a period of time set aside to focus your mind and body solely on a physical activity. I have a few reasons I believe this to be true.


  1. Most of the activities listed above are not aerobic activities. Yes, you are doing more for your health (and burning a few more calories) than if you didn’t do those things, but you are likely not elevating your heart rate out of your comfort zone. While we all have unique heart rate zones, I learned at my last “zone test” that I had to run at a surprisingly fast pace in order to get myself out of zone 1. Zone 1 is an “easy effort” that does not do much to promote heart health (or improve your athletic performance). If you are not familiar with heart rate zones, there is some general information here.  If you don’t want to get too “technical” here, just stop and think if your activity has you breaking a sweat and breathing hard. If not, you are not likely outside of your comfort zone.
  2. For me, one of the best benefits of working out is the mental benefit it provides. I often say my gym hour is “my therapy.” It is (usually) said somewhat jokingly, but truth be told this is not a joke. Exercise releases endorphins and has even been shown to help the clinically depressed. I feel terrible if I don’t workout – sluggish, tired and moody. If you are calling activity incorporated into your work day as your “workout,” I am quite sure you are not getting this same mental benefit. Typically if I am walking from my parking spot or climbing stairs somewhere I am also multitasking – talking on my cell phone or thinking about the email I need to compose or the next task I need to accomplish as opposed to being 100 percent present in my body. For more mental reasons working out can help you, check out this great article.
  3. Most “everyday activity” is not weight bearing. “Why is that such a big deal?” you may ask… Weight bearing exercise has countless benefits. The obvious one is that it increases strength, which makes everyday activities easy. (That yard work that used to leave me sore? That’s my cool down now…) Weight bearing activities also help to strengthen bones. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely getting to an age where I have started to give this thought as a woman. Stronger bones can lesson your chance of osteoporosis and lesson your chances of injury. If you know me at all, you know that I could go on (and on and on…) about strength training and how amazing it is, but I will shut up here and try to stay on task.
  4. You will never most likely not see any physical improvement by simply living an “active lifestyle.” Do you have goals for yourself? Want to be faster? Stronger? Lose weight? You are highly unlikely to reach these goals unless you incorporate planned, challenging workouts into your week.

I have talked to enough people to know that now is when some of you are going to tell me, “But I just don’t have time…” You can check out my thoughts about that here, but in a nutshell did you know that one hour a day is only four percent of your day? You don’t have four percent of your day to give to your physical and mental well being?


What are YOU going to do with your four percent today?




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