Training, Exercise and Activity

You might ask yourself why this is a section title – I mean, after all, aren’t they all the same thing?

Well, yes and no.  They’re all an important part of staying healthy, mentally and physically, but they are separate and distinct types of training (at least, as far as we’re concerned).  You see, activity is getting out and moving – and while it’s active, it’s usually not strenuous.  In fact, I would suggest that it should be enjoyable... like a round of golf, taking the dog for a walk, or playing with your kids in the playground.  (I should note – I said “playing” with your kids, not “watching your kids play while you sit on a park bench”... just sayin’...).

Some playgrounds are better than others.

Exercise is a little different – it should be, to varying degrees, more challenging and strenuous than “activity”.  Pick-up basketball, co-ed hockey, bootcamps, hiking mountain trails with a fair degree of incline... this is exercise.  Both exercise and activity will help keep you healthy, but the fact that they are not progressive or directed means that, generally speaking, once you’ve hit a certain level you will more or less maintain that level – in other words, plateau.  This is why people who have not been recently active can join a bootcamp and see great results for the first 8-12 weeks, then find it plateaus (or worse, backslides) - because the structure of bootcamps does not allow for progression.  (I should note, I have no problem with bootcamps and think that, for those who are fit enough, they are a great addition to a training program... just that they shouldn't be the only mode a person relies on.)

This is what helps define “training”.  Training has structure, purpose, and direction.  Training is what makes you better at both your exercise and activity, as well as preventing those dreaded plateaus.  A great example would be running.  Going out and simply doing a 5km loop... well, that would be exercise.  But going out and running three 1500m repeats at a pace 30secs faster than your “race pace” with 500m of light jogging for recovery in between each repeat... well, that’s training.

She sure makes stretching look exciting, doesn't she?
It’s important that all three are a part of your lifestyle – training properly can allow you to enjoy exercise more, and activity enriches our lives from a social, spiritual and mental standpoint.  The problem tends to be when folks confuse exercise and activity with training, then become frustrated at a lack of results – missing the fact that without the right combination of practice and progression their bodies have no catalyst for continued development.