The definition of 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.’

“The reason this is important is because exercise goes above and beyond our daily activities. Doing housework or yard work is physical activity, but it is not exercise. The difference can often be clarified by considering the intensity at which you feel you are working.”

Intensity of exertion during a workout can be measured through heart rate monitoring. However, if you do not have a heart rate monitor or are on certain medications that blunt the heartrate response, you can use the exertion scale (usually referred to as RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion). This is a scale of 1-10 and corresponds to the following:

0 – Nothing at all
0.5 – Just noticeable
1 – Very light
2 – Light
3 – Moderate
4 – Somewhat heavy
5 – Heavy
7 – Very heavy
10 – Very, very heavy

You should be at a 3-4 level for most of your workouts. The idea is not to over-exert yourself to the point where you do not move the rest of the day. Why? NEAT – or physical activity – makes up a large portion of your calorie expenditure during the day. NEAT means “non-exercise activity thermogenesis.” NEAT “ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting.”


Be mindful of the difference between movement and exercise – and be sure to incorporate both into your life!

Heidi Weinberg

Personal Trainer