What is Physical Activity?

physical activity


Physical activity refers to movement of the body produced by skeletal muscles resulting in greater caloric expenditure than at rest. It includes exercise and general non-exercise activity.


  • Any bodily movement substantially raising heart rate and burning calories beyond resting qualifies as physical activity. This ranges from sports to household chores.
  • Guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity plus 2 days of resistance training weekly.
  • Cardio, strength training and general daily non-exercise activity all contribute to overall physical activity levels and metabolic health.
  • Use fitness trackers or apps to monitor step count, heart rate and estimated calories burned through activity.


  • A 30 minute jog or CrossFit class constituting structured exercise.
  • Gardening, cleaning, walking the dog or taking stairs as non-exercise activity.

Related Terms

  • Sedentary behavior, exercise, NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis)

Common Questions

  • Does all activity count toward the 150 weekly minute minimum? Any aerobic activity of sufficient intensity and duration counts.
  • What if I exceed the guidelines? Excellent, the more physical activity, the better for health and fitness.
physical activity

Do Not Confuse With

  • Exercise – Structured, purposeful training sessions to improve fitness.
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