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What’s the Difference Between Activity and Exercise?

Activity is what we do throughout the day. In the past, most people had a very active day involving much more physical work. Certainly since around 1980, there has been a big shift from manufacturing in many western countries towards service and finance industries. With the aid of modern technology, this has brought a rise in office jobs and a lot more sitting down. Less activity for many.

Much labour intensive factory work is now done by robots. A farm worker would have to carry sacks of animal feed across fields and up hills, whereas today it’s simply a case of jumping in the 4×4 or sitting in an air-conditioned tractor all day.

When most women were at home, they kept very active looking after home and family. Driving to work, going by bus or train where you have a seat and sitting at a desk all day means a big drop in activity all round.

Exercise is undertaking a more specific activity, such as going for a run, a swim, a walk or a game of badminton. Exercise might last 30 minutes or even 4 hours if taking a good country walk. Activity in employment can last all day and every day.

Being active all day burns calories. Someone who has a job where they spend most of the day on their feet will be making a slow walking pace for hours. This can burn up 1200 calories, which is a healthy bonus. Such a job could be shop assistant, a nurse in a hospital, a photographer in a studio or a warehouse worker.

The majority of jobs are not like this any more, however. Spending eight hours a day at a computer or in meetings uses very few calories. Most jobs are now geared around a lot of sitting down. Offices have extremely comfortable chairs and lifts; stores have escalators, while stairs are often hidden away in a corner with cold uninviting decor, so it’s easy to avoid them.

Some firms try to introduce more activity into what is really an inactive day by making ‘bicycle desks’ or ‘treadmill desks’. The worker is supposed to be pedalling away while tapping at the computer. This sounds pretty desperate and ridiculous. Companies in Japan regularly start the day with group exercise routines.

As well as taking exercise several times a week to give the heart and lungs a boost, try to put regular activity into every day.

Bye for now,