What is the definition
of physical activity?
The definition of physical activity is "any body movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure above resting level." This definition is frequently cited by health organizations, medical professionals, and fitness specialists worldwide. [1, 2]
In layman's terms - physical activity is any movement that requires your body to work harder than it does while sitting, or resting. This includes activities like walking, cycling, gardening, & dancing.
Did you know that...
- 63% of men and 76% of women in North America are dangerously inactive. (More...)
- Physical inactivity is as dangerous as tobacco smoking. (More...)
- Moderate-intensity physical activity improves functional health, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease, and diabetes). (More...)
"Is the Definition of Physical Activity Synonymous
With Physical Fitness & Exercise?"
Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness are not synonymous - although they are sometimes used that way. According to health and wellness scientist C J Caspersen, each of these terms has a distinct definition. 
Physical activity definition - (see definition of physical activity above.)
Physical fitness definition - generally refers to a set of health-related attributes (endurance, strength, body composition, flexibility) or skill-related attributes (referring to athletic ability).
Exercise definition - planned, structured, and repetitive physical activity focused on improving or maintaining a particular level of physical fitness.
- C J Caspersen, K E Powell, and G M Christenson. Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research [abstract].Public Health Report. 1985; 100(2): 126-131. Accessed July 2, 2009. PMID: 1424733 http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1424733
- World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe Website. A Physically Active Life Through Everyday Transport. Accessed September 28, 2010. Download the pdf document here or log on at http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/environmental-health/Transport-and-health/publications/pre-2009/a-physically-active-life-through-everyday-transport-2002
- C J Caspersen, K E Powell, and G M Christenson. Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research.Public Health Reports. 1985; 100(2): 126-131. Accessed July 2, 2009. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1424733
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