Activity and Exercise
What's The Difference Between Exercise and Activity?
Many people with persistent pain, fatigue or other ongoing health conditions tell us that keeping active and independent is really important to them. However, people often struggle to know how much to do, or what types of exercise may be suitable for their condition. Previous experience of exercise may have been unhelpful, with many people reporting an increase in pain, fatigue and other symptoms.
Although there are some similarities, exercise is different to activity:
- Activity includes any movement which requires energy.
- Exercise is specifically planned, intentional movement with the aim of maintaining or improving physical fitness.
Exercise & Long-Term Health Conditions
The good news is that appropriate exercise is known to be beneficial for most health conditions, including arthritis, low back pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and persistent (chronic) pain. Exercise can be any activity that gets you moving and does not have to involve expensive equipment, gym membership or lycra! The following steps can help you introduce more exercise into your routine:
- Decide what you want to achieve by being more active, e.g. flexibility (stretching exercise), function (strengthening exercise), or fitness (stamina / aerobic exercise). Think about how being more active will help you to move towards your values, e.g. walking for longer may help you to be able to go out with your family more of the time.
- Work out what your current ability level is, and how you might be able to build on that - remembering that it's okay to start small.
- Figure out how you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Are you aware of the effects of other activities on your symptoms? Do you need to take this into account when planning your activity?
- Think about what will make it enjoyable and fun (i.e. sustainable!)
If you are interested in finding out more about activity and exercise, take a look at our downloadable factsheet. It includes guidance on what types of activity may suit your condition, what changes you may see in your body, and how hard to exercise so you don't worsen your symptoms.
If you have specific concerns or fears about exercise, please speak to a health professional, such as a physiotherapist or your GP.
Please note - at current the links below are re-directing to our old website which is no longer covered by a security certificate. We are working to sort this as soon as possible and we are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.
Activity And Exercise Factsheet
Worksheet 7.1 - Setting A Baseline