Exercise vs. Incidental Activity

Exercise vs. Incidental Activity

When you are active, your body uses more calories, and this helps you maintain a healthy weight. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. This is why regular activity is a fundamental component of any successful weight loss program.

There are two primary forms of physical activity, and both can help you control your weight. They are:

  • Incidental activity
  • Planned exercise

What is Incidental Activity?

Incidental activity refers to any small form of movement that accumulates throughout the day, resulting in an increased level of daily activity. This form of activity doesn’t happen at the gym, but instead relies on your daily choices.

Incidental activity refers to any situation where you choose to be active. Examples include:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walking instead of driving
  • Playing a yard game instead of a board game with the kids
  • Walking the dog instead of letting him roam the yardtanding more often at work
  • Standing more often at work
  • Moving while watching TV

Incorporating more incidental activity into your day is one aspect of creating a more active lifestyle. While scheduling out 30 minutes a day to exercise is great, it doesn’t counteract sedentary behavior throughout the rest of your day.

Understanding Planned Exercise

Planned exercise refers to organized activity that you engage in to work out. There are three primary forms of exercise:

  • Aerobic or cardiovascular activity: This includes exercises like walking, running, swimming or cycling
  • Strength training or muscle building activity: This includes body weight exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, as well as weight lifting.
  • Flexibility training or muscle stretching: This includes activities like yoga, Pilates and basic stretching activities.

Most people think of planned exercise when they think about physical activity. There are many forms of exercise, including walking, team sports and aerobics classes. You can participate in exercise at your local gym or community center, or in the comfort of your own home. Explore your options and find a workout that you enjoy. This will encourage you to exercise more often, which can help you manage your weight.

Get Moving: Incidental or Planned Activity?

Incidental activity doesn’t replace planned exercise, but these two forms of activity can work together to increase your physical activity level.

The greatest difference between incidental and planned activity is where and when they are performed. Incidental activity requires no gym, special equipment or preparation. By standing up and moving, you can start engaging in incidental activity at any moment you choose.

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