Physical activity terms are sometimes erroneously interchanged, especially now with obesity/overweight’s global struggle streaming volumes of articles. Kind of like the telephone game where the finishing word/phrase is nothing like how it began, modifications can significantly alter meaning. This is all innocent fun until the alterations roadblock motivation to engage. Understanding basic terminology needs to be spot on considering physical activity’s importance to wellness, so here goes, an easy-peasy review.

Physical activity is body movement behavior that can be described for its frequency (how often?), intensity (degree of exertion – energy expenditure), time (how long?), and type (what was the form? e.g., formal exercise, dance, football, pilates, canoeing).

Physical activity is health protective and contributes to life quality especially when it includes regular, moderate-vigorous engagement in activities specific to Health-Related Fitness – cardiovascular strength, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. Health-related engagement strengthens our bodily systems, prevents certain diseases, and optimizes physical, emotional and cognitive functioning. While any physical activity is better than no physical activity, more activity yields greater health-related benefit.

Physical activity also results in Physical Fitness, performance measures in aspects like speed, power, strength, and endurance (e.g., how fast you can run, how far you can throw, how much you can lift). While training can improve performance, genetics ultimately predisposes the outer edges. If you are like me, this means hard as I try I will forever need to use blocks during yoga. Thanks mom and dad for NO flexibility capacity.

Important to understand is physical fitness prowess may or may not align to health-related fitness. By itself, the ability to skillfully throw a Frisbee isnt health protective, but in the context of playing cardiovascular-intense Ultimate Frisbee it sure can be. Similarly, you may win races being a fast runner but unless you also regularly strength train, stretch and sustain healthy body composition your blazing speed alone will not bring about optimum health protection.

More important, high capacity physical fitness is not required to attain health-related fitness. Said differently, physical fitness limitation does not limit health-related fitness capacity. Anyone can, and will (precluding circumstances), yield health protection from physical activity engagement regardless of their performance edges. (Perceiving) Deficiencies in strength, speed or motor skill proficiency doesn’t diminish your health-related benefit—which leads to the grand finale.

As a fact we all have to face, perhaps more significant to those who enjoy the physical fitness side of engagement, there simply IS that ceiling of how far we can jump or how fast we can run. However, Health-Related Fitness has no such boundary. Net/net, EACH engagement can yield activity’s unique and profound health protection.

No matter how it might seem, health-related fitness AND physical fitness happens in the back of the class same as the front.