Types of Physical Activity – Understanding What is Physical Activity
Physical activity is defined as any physical motion made by the skeletal muscles which need energy consumption. Physical activity also covers all movements, at any level, performed during any phase of the day or night, inclusive of sleep. It also includes incidental movement and exercise incorporated in daily activity. This implies that it can be aerobic (cardiovascular) or anaerobic (anaerobic). Aerobic exercises, such as running, walking, bicycling, skating, swimming, cycling, and stair climbing, require sufficient oxygen intake and expenditure of force to move the body from point A to point B. These activities are considered anaerobic when performed at a higher level than that required to produce a similar movement at rest.
When researchers describe physical fitness as the capacity to do defined activities using appropriate exercise equipment, they are referring to this definition as functional capacity. Exercise physiology experts suggest that functional capacity is also influenced by genetic, physiological, and environmental factors. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), in its 2021 Exercise Guidelines for Americans, concluded, “Optimal exercise performance may be achieved through a combination of exercise techniques with a balanced approach to eating and nutrition.”
This definition of physical activity covers a broad spectrum of activities that engage the major muscle groups. These muscle groups are categorized as primary or secondary use. Primary use activities include weightlifting weights, flexibility training, running, and sprinting. The second type of fitness activity falls under the classification of secondary use and is aerobic exercise.
A further distinction between physical inactivity and sedentary behavior is the amount of energy expended by the body while doing activities of a passive nature. Sedentary behavior, also known as chronic sedentary, results from a pattern of non-activity. It is not only inactivity that causes sedentary behavior but also the lack of motivation to engage in physical activity. The lack of enthusiasm results from both mental and physical inactivity and is most commonly seen among overweight and obese people. Sedentary behavior can also occur in individuals who engage in regular physical activity but do not feel the necessary motivation to continue.
A third distinction refers to those who suffer from chronic diseases but are able to remain physically active. Chronic diseases include cardiovascular conditions, asthma, diabetes, and kidney problems. Individuals who suffer from these conditions may still be active but their level of physical activity has substantially decreased because of the effects of the illness. Those who are healthy can exhibit high levels of physical activity for short periods of time. This type of physical activity is referred to as mild to moderate exercise.
To maintain optimal physical fitness, it is important to engage in regular exercise. Aerobic exercise is the type of physical activity most often recommended for maintaining overall health. Many different types of aerobic exercises can help individuals maintain optimal health. Examples of aerobic exercises include walking, bicycling, stair climbing, swimming, or using a stationary bicycle.
The fourth definition refers to those who engage in mixed form activities. Mixed form activities may include lifting weights while standing, bending over while sitting, and even sitting on a bike. Some examples of mixed activity might include playing tennis, mountain climbing, and cross country skiing. Regardless of the specific activity, it is important to consult with a physician before undertaking any physical activity to ensure proper nutritional and exercise goals are met.
Each of these descriptions provide a more specific explanation of the types of physical inactivity that exists. Understanding the specific reasons why individuals exhibit chronic diseases is important to developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles. As more research is conducted on the relationship between physical activity and the occurrence of chronic diseases, researchers may learn ways to modify existing definitions to reduce the risks of developing future illnesses related to inactivity. By reviewing the above article, you have learned an in-depth description of the different types of physical activity and how the above definition can be modified to fit the lifestyle of everyone.