News & Insights 25 August 2020

Physical Activity comes in all forms and intensities, not just vigorous exercise!

Physical activity and exercise have two separate definitions. Physical Activity is ‘any bodily movement produced by the muscles that results in energy expenditure.’ Exercise, on the other hand, can be defined as a ‘specific type of physical activity that is planned, structured and done repeatedly to improve or maintain physical fitness’ (Casperson, Powell and Christenson, 1985). Quite clearly then exercise, a term which is so often associated with the gym, running shoes, and sweaty sports gear, falls under the umbrella of physical activity. It is not however, the be all and end all, and by no means is exercise the only way in which you can be physically active.

Despite this, a recent study has found that adults only tend to acknowledge improvements to their physical activity level if those increases are in the form of vigorous intensity activity. This means that little or no regard is shown for improvements in light or moderate intensities, both of which have been proven to be beneficial for health. This suggests that physical activity intensity is a key indicator when it comes to perceiving behaviour change, with preferences tending to lean towards improving your vigorous intensity activity. Whilst vigorous activity is an important aspect of your overall physical activity level, there are other ways you can make improvements, and the notion that activity must be vigorous to have any benefit is dangerous. Not only is this idea fundamentally wrong, it also cuts off physical activity for many people, stripping the numerous health benefits away from those who are uninterested, unable or simply put off by the thought of participating in vigorous intensity exercise.

To counteract this, recognising the multi-dimensional nature of physical activity is the first key step to enabling you to understand that physical activity of all intensities can be beneficial to your health. Multi-dimensional physical activity takes into account all of the movements you make in your normal daily life, placing equal value on each and every one of these activities. Whether it be cooking dinner, hanging the washing out, cleaning the car or making a cup of tea, each of these daily tasks has a considerable level of movement associated with carrying it out, movement which should not simply be ignored just because it might not necessarily be of a vigorous intensity.

At KiActiv® we know that physical activity is multi-dimensional. It is our goal to empower our users to gain a better understanding of their physical activity habits using wearable activity trackers to continuously monitor movements. We look to help and support our users to optimise their personalised physical activity with an online, mentor supported programme. Our user-centred approach places the emphasis on personal choice, drawing on the well-established self-determination theory of psychology to implement positive behaviour change which can be sustained in the long-term to aid with the self-management of various health conditions, and for the benefit of general health and wellbeing.

The KiActiv® Team