Is Living An Active Lifestyle Good Enough?

Is Living An Active Lifestyle Good Enough?

By Ryan Jones, NASM, PTAGlobal, Spartan SGX, ISSA, PES

Is Living An Active Lifestyle Good Enough?

While living an ‘active lifestyle’ is far better than living a chronically sedentary one, simply being “active” could leave you short of some critical health and fitness components.  

Do you take heart medication for your arthritis?  How about a multivitamin for diabetes?  

The answer should be, “No.”  Prescribed medication is based on a variety of factors such as individuality, specificity, and prognosis (i.e.the forecast of an outcome pertaining to a situation/disease/ailment).

Did you know that within the top 5 causes of death in the United States heart disease still ranks as number 1, followed by cancer, stroke and respiratory diseases?  While some people may be predisposed to some of these due to genetics, these conditions may still be prevented through nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise.  Yes, exercise….it is the ‘best medicine.’  And, considering our nation’s collective and chronically challenged health, shouldn’t we have the same mindset regarding exercise prescription as we do for medications?  It’s really not that much different.  Exercise prescription is based on individuality, specificity and prognosis, or, in this case, goal(s)/desired outcomes.

Understanding the difference between Physical Activity vs. Exercise Prescription 

Recognizing the differences between Physical Activity (PA) and Exercise Prescription (EP) and how they both can fit into our lives, can make all the difference for health outcomes and achieving goals.

Physical Activity: It is noted that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines PA as: any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that results in an increase in caloric requirements over resting expenditure.

Exercise and Exercise Prescription: as defined by the ACSM: a type of PA consisting of planned, structured, and repetitive bodily movement done to improve and/or maintain one or more components of physical fitness through specific variables including type, intensity, duration, frequency and progression of physical activity.

Did you notice that the definition of PA is broad and vague?  “Any bodily movement;” this can be anything on the spectrum of literally getting out of bed, walking or the extreme such as vigorous exercise - and, even ‘vigorous’ is subjective based on individuality.  EP is specific to PA being planned, structured and repetitive where variables are adjusted and progressed based on goals.  So in the end, it’s really about how you apply PA to elicit the response wanted as it relates to a specific goal.

Having a plan or the right prescription for you - it matters!

Within fitness and exercise, one of the major tenets is the SAIDs principle (specific adaptation to imposed demands), meaning whatever stimulus you put your body through will elicit a specific adaptation. So, if you want to build muscle, going for a walk won’t get you there.  If you want to alleviate your shoulder pain, playing tennis with your friends won’t “fix” the issue.  And, if you want to improve heart health, doing the dishes won’t be enough.  So, if you want to build muscle, alleviate shoulder pain, or improve cardiovascular health, implementing a plan that is both individualized and structured is a must.  

Just like how prescription medications are used to treat or manage specific illnesses or diseases, specific fitness goals can only be reached through planned and purposeful exercise prescription.  

Yes, PA boosts exercise benefits. But, the EP IS the blueprint for your individual results, and it requires specific exercise stimuli.  Remember, factors such as type, intensity, frequency and duration matter! 

Paradigm shift ????- there’s more to exercise and fitness than just implementing or increasing PA. If we think of consuming exercise like we do our prescribed medications with individuality, specificity, and the prognosis being a goal, it is then that the best results will be actualized. Have an EP that fits your goal(s), have a specific plan, commit to the plan, and execute that plan.  PA will only get you so far.