Differences Between Being Physically Active vs Physically Fit


Given that the physical body is a means of transportation between birth and death, it functions exclusively in the material realm. Consequently, it is also subject to the linear laws of cause and effect. Nonetheless, it remains the ultimate outward manifestation of thoughts and activities.

When gratification is experienced from eating too much food, or too much of the wrong types of foods, well-documented consequences occur. Too little or too much sleep, exercise, or water, can generate excessive stresses. The outcome can be tragic and somewhat predictable. Modern approaches to the models of health, diet, exercise, and nutrition, have done little more than confuse the issue.

Our physical bodies are the easiest aspect of human being to relate to since we wake up in it every day and function all day long with it as a constant companion. We wash it, primp it, exercise it, rest it, and take it places that it will enjoy.

Sometimes we derive pleasure from engaging it in things that are ultimately harmful for it, such as eating too many sweets, staying up too late, or lying in the sun on the beach all day. Nonetheless, the body is designed as a vehicle to transport us from birth to death and everywhere in between.

However, it is so much more than just a vehicle. With all of its finely tuned components and unexpressed potential, it is capable of providing us with a medium for self-awareness and transcendence.

At first glance the human body first appears as a compilation of cells, tissues, organs, glands, and systems. In light of the time-honored assumptions of conventional medical dogma, all of these components can be statistically categorized. The progression and outcome of the physical body can be accurately predicted; that is to say, everyone is going to grow old and die.

Despite this conventional cornerstone of “scientific medicine”, it is really about the only thing that is reasonably predictable. Upon closer inspection, we see gross contradictions to this traditional wisdom. Perhaps aging and death are inevitable, but the quality of life experienced in the interim is not nearly as predictable as once thought.

Brain Fitness
physically-active-vs-physically-fit-1Many older people may feel that physical activity is not safe to do, or that they are too busy or too tired to be physically active. But being physically active every day is one important aspect of a healthy lifestyle that can help you to continue to live independently at home in your community.

Strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles and increasing your flexibility contribute to physical fitness. Being active helps you do every day activities like climbing the stairs, shopping for groceries, and visiting with family and friends.

Research shows that regular physical activity can promote psychological well-being and aid in reducing feelings of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. On a day that you’re feeling a bit tired, down, or stressed, consider taking a brisk walk.

Leading a physically active lifestyle can also help maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight gain. Balance the calories you take in as food and beverages with the calories that you use through physical activity.

People with higher levels of physical activity are at lower risk for developing chronic disease. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of or help manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and osteoporosis. It can also help prevent or reduce falls.

Different intensities and types of activity provide different benefits. Generally, if you are able to talk while performing the physical activity, it’s moderately intense. But if you’re breathing hard and it’s hard to hold a conversation, the activity is vigorously intense. Vigorously intense activity burns more calories than less vigorous activity in the same amount of time.

For most people, moderately intense physical activities include:

  • Walking briskly
  • Doing yard work
  • Scrubbing the floor
  • Actively playing with children
  • Pushing a wheelchair
  • Biking at a casual pace

For most people, vigorously intense activities include:

  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Playing sports such as basketball or soccer
  • Cross-country skiing

What You Need To Know
Consult with your healthcare professional if you have certain chronic diseases or are taking specific medications that could affect your participation in physical activities. Your healthcare professional can also help determine the best level of physical activity for you, and whether you should participate in supervised or unsupervised programs. Explore physical activity programs for older adults offered by local organizations such as senior centers, recreation departments, hospitals, fitness centers, churches, community centers, and schools.

Reduce Your Risk For Chronic Disease
physically-active-vs-physically-fit-2Do at least 30 minutes of moderately-intense physical activity, above usual activity, on most days of the week. You don’t need to do it all at once. It’s all right to break up your physical activity into three, 10-minute times throughout the day. And, increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active can have even greater health benefits.

Help Manage Body Weight & Prevent Weight Gain
You may need at least 60 minutes of moderately to vigorously intense activity, above usual activity, on most days of the week to manage your weight. At the same time, watch the calories in the food you eat-you can figure out the right number of daily calories for you.

Achieve Physical Fitness
A well-rounded program includes cardiovascular conditioning (getting your heart rate up), stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or strength training for improving muscle strength and building endurance. Combining these different types of physical activity can help you be faster and stronger. It is important for older adults to include resistance exercises at least two times a week.

Strength training exercises are resistance exercises that can increase endurance, increase the strength of your muscles, and maintain the integrity of your bones. They’re an important part of getting physically fit and strong, and it’s beneficial to include them 2 or more days a week.

Specifically, strength training makes your body strong and more toned, and has the potential to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Examples include using free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands.

Fitting In Fitness
Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. It is important to schedule it in and make it part of your routine. One way to fit it in is to exercise during your breaks throughout the day. Studies show you get the same health benefits from breaking up physical activity into three to six 10-minute or two to four 15-minute intervals throughout the day. As long as you get your heart rate up and keep it up for the whole 10 or 15 minutes, it’s your daily total that’s important.

Proper hydration is important when participating in physical activity. To avoid dehydration, be sure to drink plenty of water or other fluid (non-alcoholic) both during and after the activity.

There may be times when you need extra motivation. Leveling-off periods are normal and may signal that it’s time to get help from others. You can plan activities with a group, find a buddy to exercise with, record your progress, and feel good about small, consistent changes.

There is seemingly no end to the benefits gained through a regular fitness and nutritional plan. In fact, it’s hard to imagine why everyone isn’t taking advantage of what fitness has to offer.

Let Me Count The Ways:

physically-active-vs-physically-fit-3Exercise Benefit #1: Increased energy: The right combination of exercise and nutrition creates a hormonal environment conducive to fat loss, increased muscle strength and increased energy.

Exercise Benefit #2: Increased Self-Esteem: Gaining control of your body size and weight helps you look better and be more confident which empowers you in everything you do.

Exercise Benefit #3: Increase Mental Focus: The latest research shows that exercise helps keep the brain sharp well into old age?

Exercise Benefit #4: Decreased Risk of a Heart Attack: By exercising regularly and making positive changes in your diet, you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and greatly diminish the chances of having a heart attack.

Exercise Benefit #5: Decreased Risk of Osteoporosis: Weight-bearing exercise reduces the risk of osteoporosis, and can even reverse it by building bone tissue!

Exercise Benefit #6: Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer by up to 60% Estradiol and progesterone, two ovarian hormones linked to breast cancer tumor production are lowered in the body by exercise.

Exercise Benefit #7: Increased Strength and Stamina: Every physical thing you do becomes easier.

Exercise Benefit #8: Reduced Depression: The production of Endorphins (Feel good hormones) is increased through exercise, improving mood and suppressing depression.

Exercise Benefit #9: Decreased Stress Levels: The worries and stresses of everyday living can stick with you long after the work day is done. Exercise right after work can help you wind down and sleep better too!

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About Author

Dr. Richard A. DiCenso

Published author, international speaker, and complementary care expert, Dr. Richard A. DiCenso has over 30 years experience in treating the chronic symptoms of Vicious Cycle disorders (VCD). With his extensive experience in "Whole Person Therapy", he is the leading authority in Biological Fluid Analysis. See my profile page for more information!

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