Exercise, Training or Activity?


Exercise, Training or Activity?


How we categorise exercise is a determinant to how we describe it, or even our feelings towards it.  For the most part, people would describe activities such as running, as hard and football as fun. Regardless, people provide the same reasons for why they don’t ‘exercise’, but perhaps it’s our mindset that’s actually the barrier.  Firstly, I don’t like defining activities as exercise.  In my opinion, you are either training or doing an activity; exercise could define either of these, which is the problem.  If your doing something you enjoy and don’t need to think about it, you’re being active.  If however you’ve meticulously planning rep ranges, sets, rest periods and intensity, your now training.  For some people they enjoy this methodical approach to their activity and it coincides with the enjoyment of the activity itself.  For others this isn’t the case and it would be their worst nightmare doing an activity with rest and work periods.  Lets define training and activity:

Training: Training has a set purpose, outcome goal or objective.  It may be to develop a component of fitness or it may be part of a periodised training plan to accomplish physiological adaptions over extended periods of time.  This type of activity benefits your health and components of fitness, but you may not enjoy doing it.

Activities:  The can be anything that allows you to be active.  These are things that for the most part you enjoy doing, whilst elevating heart rate and resulting is some form of physical exertion.  They benefit you health and help you to be more active, do these as often as possible.

So how do you find activities that you enjoy and that meet the recommendations for health?  The first step is to make a list of all the activities that you enjoy/would like to do and another list of the activities that meet the health recommendations.  You should ideally have two categories: activities for my health and activities that I enjoy.  Everyone should have some form of cardiovascular activity and resistance based activity included.  My list looks something like this:


Activities for my health Activities that I enjoy
Running (intervals) Running (endurance)
Core endurance exercises/circuits Climbing
Functional Movements/Stretching Hiking
Foam rolling Cycling
Resistance Training 5-a-side football

If your lucky you’ll find that the activities you enjoy, meet the recommendations outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO):

The recommendations for health are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise through the week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity through the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.  Two days per week should include whole body resistance exercises and stretching (WHO 2013).

Hopefully by making a list of the activities you enjoy and the ones necessary for health you’ll be able to better plan the activities you do each week.  Maybe even make a third list of the activities you would like to try and make it your goal to try and new activity once a month.

The next stage is to work out how much time you have to set aside during the week to do the activities you enjoy and the ones necessary for your health.  Going off the list I’ve made, following my own advice and the recommendations my weekly routine may look something like this:


Week Activity Plan
Low-intensity Activity Vigorous-intensity Activity Resistance Activity Stretching
Activity Running2 X 45 mins 5-a-side football90 mins Climbing120 mins Functional Movements/Stretching20 mins
Cycling60 mins Core endurance exercises/circuits30 mins Foam rolling20 mins
Total (minutes) 150 90 150 40


This would total my moderate-intensity exercise at 150 minutes, vigorous-intensity exercise totalling 90 minutes and resistance exercise totalling 150 minutes, exceeding the recommendations on their own and when combined.  Foam rolling, functional movements and stretching are the activities I least enjoy, but are included for injury prevention and the WHO recommends stretching.

Planning your weekly activity like this will help you to not only work out how much time you have available to exercise, but what you enjoy doing.  Vary your activity up as well, if you enjoy doing more activities than you have time to do each week, do different ones. Research shows that it is more important to be active than it is to be inactive for the majority of the day with a single bout of exercise. So look for opportunities to be on your feet, elevating your heart rate and doing things your enjoy.

By approaching activities, not as exercise you have to do, but as activities that you enjoy doing then you’ll be more likely to spend time doing them.  Don’t measure your results against others; see the result as your enjoyment in the activity.  As Albert Einstein once said:

“people love chopping wood.  In this activity one immediately sees results.”

(Notes on the Author – Danny Foster is an avid runner and nutrition expert currently studying sport and exercise science at Sheffield Hallam University. He works in our Sheffield Decathlon branch and currently works as an expert sports adviser, ensuring each running/nutrition customer leaves the store kitted out with everything they need for their next race. Are you interested in a job that lets you pursue your passion? Why not scoot over to our careers site and discover the many positions available – http://www.decathlon-jobs.co.uk/ )

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