What is the difference between an “active lifestyle” vs. exercise?  When I ask my patients if/what they’re doing for cardiovascular (CV) exercise, I commonly hear responses such as “I walk a lot at work” or “I clean my house and do yard work for exercise” or “I play golf” or “I work in a warehouse so I’m constantly moving”. Although these activities keep us moving, they do not provide the same benefits as CV exercise. For instance, work and house cleaning will rarely increase our heart rate non-stop for at least 20 min, thus we don’t attain the same benefits as CV exercise provides.  Some of these benefits include decreased risk of heart disease, pain, inflammation, and stress; improved sleep quality; weight loss; improved mood; and increased circulation and endurance. Listed below are examples of living an active lifestyle vs. exercise:

Examples of Active Lifestyle/Work:


Taking care of kids

Being on your feet all day at work

Running errands

Walking around at work


Exercise for Fitness:

Frequency: 3-5 times a week

Intensity: 60-85% Max Heart Rate (sweating,  breathing heavily, difficult to hold a conversation)

Time: 20-60 minutes continuous or intervals

Examples: swimming, biking, running, elliptical,

walking (any activity that uses large muscle

groups/ full body movements).


Healthy Lifestyle:                                     

Frequency:  Daily                                                                   

Intensity: Pace of a brisk walk

Time: Accumulation of 30 minutes

throughout the day.

Examples: gardening, dancing, using the stairs


Exercise for Endurance:

 Heart Rate is maintained at 60-70% for 45-60 minutes of continuous exercise.

The focus is to build endurance for daily activities. Another benefit of endurance training

is it burns fat. When performing endurance

activities, it should feel like you could do that

intensity for a long period of time. It should

feel refreshing during and after exercise.