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Being Active at Work isn’t the Same as Exercise

Archetype Team

One of our 5 Foundations of Health at Friends and Family Health Centers is exercise.  Almost every day patients tell me that I don’t have to exercise because my job is so physically active.  It is true that my job is very physically active, and most days I don’t stop moving for 6-7 hours straight. Even though that is much better than sitting at a desk for 8 hours straight, it is repetitive stress to my body. I have patients tell me all the time that they don’t have to exercise because they are so physically active at work, but they probably have the same problem I do, and that is that they are doing the same movements multiple times.

Physical activity and exercise have different definitions:

  • "Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure."
  • "Exercise is physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body. Exercise is used to improve health, maintain fitness and is important as a means of physical rehabilitation."

Exercise is important because you need to do different movements from the ones you do at work to prevent injury and dysfunction from repetitive stress. Being physically active at work is very beneficial though, because the World Health Organization has identified physical inactivity as an independent risk factor for chronic disease development, which is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

The graphic below from the American Institute for Cancer Research shows the importance of both physical activity and exercise.

Even though you have your exercise routine down, you might still have to be more physically active during the day to improve or maintain your health. Just think about how much you sit during the day.  You might sit in the car in the morning, sit at work, again in the car after work, and then sit on the couch watching TV.  There is a saying “sitting is the new smoking,” and we all know how bad smoking is!

I have been a practicing Chiropractor for about a year. For a while I told myself that what I did at work was enough because I was tired at the end of the day, and that’s how I fell out of my exercise routine for a while. Then my back started hurting, so I had to do something different.  I started working out 4-5 times per week in addition to with being physically active at work and I feel so much better.  I had also convinced myself that working out early in the morning is not for me, but now I wake up early 3 days a week to go work out and I still have enough energy the entire day. 

We as humans are our own biggest enemies because we create excuses why we can’t do this and that.  The only way we can improve ourselves is if we change old habits that weren’t working.  Do you want to just be alive or live life?

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