Physical activity

Any voluntarily bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles and requires energy expenditure Physical activity is not just exercise. It includes other activities that involve movement; for example cleaning, working, active transport etc.

Physical activity is defined as any voluntary bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity encompasses all activities, at any intensity, performed during any time of day or night. It includes exercise and incidental activity integrated into daily activity. This integrated activity may not be planned, structured, repetitive or purposeful for the improvement of fitness, and may include activities such as walking to the local shop, cleaning, working, active transport etc. Lack of physical activity is associated with a range of negative health outcomes whereas increased physical activity can improve physical as well as mental health. There are at least eight investments that work to increase population-level physical activity, including whole-of-school programmes, active transport, active urban design, healthcare, public education and mass media, sport for all, workplaces and community-wide programmes. Physical activity increases energy expenditure and is a key regulator in controlling body weight (Summermatter cycle).

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Terminology misconception

"Exercise" and "physical activity" are frequently used interchangeably and generally refer to physical activity performed during leisure time with the primary purpose of improving or maintaining physical fitness, physical performance, or health. Physical activity is not exactly the same concept as exercise. Exercise is defined as a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective. Conversely, physical activity includes exercise but may also be unplanned, unstructured, random and non-purposeful carried out for a multitude of reasons.

Intensity of physical activities on a continuum from sedentary behavior to vigorous physical activity.

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