Most people use the terms "physical activity" and "exercise" interchangeably, even though there is a difference between the two. Physical activity is movement that causes the muscles to contract, while exercise is structured and helps to maintain or improve physical fitness.
So, is it okay to use these terms interchangeably, or should companies promoting employee health and fitness be sure to specify one over the other? (Ugh, the confusing terms of the fitness industry.)
Physical Activity Is Easy to Incorporate into Your Day
The biggest bonus to physical activity is that you can be physically active throughout the day by taking the stairs, raking leaves, or parking your car in the back of the parking lot. You can do all of these things at your own leisure when you don’t have time to schedule a workout. And, if you are being physically active to the point where your heart rate is elevated and you feel as though you are working hard, your overall health will benefit.
Scheduled Exercise Makes Employee Health a Priority
I think the biggest question among corporate wellness promoters is, "Will a daily exercise routine benefit employees more in the long run compared to physical activity?" I have mixed emotions on this. By scheduling time to exercise, individuals are making their health a priority and have taken the step to improve their overall well being. But being physically active, beyond activities of daily living, can make a difference in an employee’s health as well.
If companies want to see the benefit of incorporating corporate fitness into their organization, they can start by encouraging employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I can guarantee that once employees make this a habit, their productivity will increase, stress levels will decrease, and they will start asking for more ways to increase physical activity throughout their shift. Or they might even start asking for an onsite fitness center!