Physical Activity Keeps the Mind and Body Sharp: Here’s How

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Physical Activity Keeps the Mind and Body Sharp: Here’s How

physical activity is great for your body as well as your mind.

Whether you’re a health and fitness buff or simply attended health class in school, you’re aware that physical activity is great for your body as well as your mind. While eating well (balanced diet with lots of clean, fresh, organic veggies) does a body good, it doesn’t work by itself. Keeping a regular movement routine could make a huge difference in your overall health in both the short term and the long term.

Developing habits around physical activity can feel like an overwhelming task, especially if you’re starting from square one. However, the term “physical activity” encapsulates more types of movement than you might think.

Table of contents:

What Counts as Physical Activity?

If you were asked to explain the difference between physical activity and exercise, could you do it? Here’s the bottom line: All exercise is physical activity, but not all physical activity can be considered exercise. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two and how you can include them in your routine.

Intentional Exercise

There are many different types of intentional exercise to explore. It all depends on what your goals are and what kind of movement you enjoy.

As a whole, exercise can be categorized into aerobic and anaerobic activity.

Aerobic exercise increases your breathing and heart rate and uses many muscle groups to allow you to move consistently for a long period of time. During this type of exercise, your muscles actively use the oxygen that you breathe in, which is why your lungs work harder than usual. Some examples of aerobic activity include:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Dancing

Anaerobic exercise utilizes a different energy source than aerobic exercise, which is why you can only perform it for short, intense bursts. Anaerobic movement takes its fuel from your muscles instead of your breath, and your muscles tend to fatigue faster than your lungs do. Anaerobic exercise can include:

  • Weight lifting
  • Plyometrics
  • Sprinting
  • High-intensity interval training, or HIIT
  • Pilates

Most people turn to aerobic exercise to improve their heart health and maintain or lose weight, as this type of movement burns the most calories per workout. Anaerobic exercise is also good for your heart and lungs, but it primarily strengthens your muscles, joints, and bones and improves your mobility now and in the future.

When you compare and contrast aerobic physical activity with anaerobic physical activity, you find that both types of movement have amazing health benefits and can be used in tandem for optimal wellness.

For example, running or biking on some days and lifting weights or doing plyometric exercises on other days could improve your heart health and lung capacity while keeping your weight stable and your muscles strong.

General Movement

Instead of setting time aside for a workout, you can take part in physical activity throughout the day.

Though the various types of intentional exercise may have different effects and benefits, they have one important factor in common: They are planned and executed in a specific way. This is what sets exercise apart from general physical activity.

Instead of setting time aside for a workout, you can take part in physical activity throughout the day. In fact, you may do some of these activities multiple times a day without even knowing that you’re getting health-boosting movement in! Here are some examples:

  • Housework (washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.)
  • Walking (to your neighborhood a Clean Juice!)
  • Walking the dog or up the stairs (no elevators!)
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking
  • Dancing
  • Gardening

Perhaps you’ve never thought of how active you are in your daily life, but dozens of common chores and hobbies involve moving your body and using your muscles. This means that taking part in simple everyday tasks could have significant results for your physical and mental health.

Benefits or Physical Activity for Physical Health

Now that you understand the key differences between exercise and general physical activity, it’s time to dive into the distinct benefits that both can have for your physical health.

Better Heart Health

Did you know that one of the best benefits of physical activity is heart disease prevention? Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the two most common causes of death in the U.S., but you can have more control over your risk for these conditions than you might think.

Regular movement combined with a healthy diet and a good sleep schedule can massively reduce your likelihood of developing heart disease or other heart problems.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Not only can physical activity reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, but it can also lower your chances of developing metabolic syndrome.

Both conditions are associated with excess fat around the waist, low HDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure. Even adding small amounts of low- to mid-intensity exercise to your weekly routine could make a big difference in preventing these and other health concerns.

Stronger Immune System

The weaker your immune system is, the more likely you are to contract infectious diseases when you come into contact with a sick person. In fact, adults who meet the physical activity guidelines for Americans (150 minutes of moderate to intense movement per week) reduce their risk of dying from pneumonia and flu by half.

Easier Weight Management

Whether you’re trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight, the type of physical activity you do and how often you do it can make a huge difference in your success. For example, regular aerobic activity paired with a slight decrease in food intake can lead to faster and more sustainable weight loss than simply reducing calories.

Also, combining anaerobic muscle-building exercises like weight lifting with including more protein and complex carbs in your diet can lead to lean muscle gain. If you simply want to maintain your weight, a moderate weekly exercise routine can help you do that without much effort while keeping your health strong.

Deeper Sleep

When you’re in need of rest, what really matters is the quality of your sleep. While it’s important for most adults to get at least six hours of sleep, even 10 hours of sleep will leave you feeling exhausted if you don’t spend enough time in deep sleep.

Studies have shown a connection between moderate physical activity and deep, productive sleep. However, the time of day that you exercise could play a role in its effect on your rest. If you like to do high-intensity exercise, try to schedule it in the morning or early afternoon so you can wind down for sleep in the evening.

Better Mobility

It’s natural to lose some mobility as you age, but you’re much more likely to keep the ability to walk, run, stand, and move normally well into old age if you exercise regularly. Physical activity keeps your muscles, bones, and joints strong and flexible, especially when combined with regular stretching.

Longer Life Expectancy

According to experts, more than 100,000 deaths each year among U.S. adults could be avoided by adding small amounts of moderate or vigorous movement. When you incorporate physical activity into your daily or weekly routine, you could be extending your life span significantly.

Benefits of Physical Activity for Mental Health

It’s clear to see that the benefits of physical activity for your body are significant, but what about your mind? There are so many mental health reasons to incorporate more movement into your daily life.

Release Stress

Stress can affect your mood throughout the day in many negative ways. Physical activity has been linked to reduced stress, which not only makes your daily life more enjoyable but also helps to prevent stress-related mental and physical health conditions from developing.

Reduced Depression and Anxiety Symptoms

If you have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, developing an exercise routine could be an effective treatment method. Physical activity promotes better brain function and reduces inflammation in the brain, which can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that promote feelings of happiness and well-being.

Clearer Memory

Studies show that in people who exercise regularly, the areas of the brain that are responsible for memory are larger and more robust. If you stay physically active, you will be directly contributing to the health and ability of your brain, especially when it comes to preserving old memories and creating new ones.

Increased Self-Esteem

Physical activity is more than just a way to keep your muscles strong and your body healthy. It can also feel like a meaningful investment into your well-being and longevity, which will naturally increase your sense of confidence and self-esteem. And when you set exercise-related goals and reach them, you can feel even better about yourself.

What Are the Effects of Living a Sedentary Lifestyle?

What happens if you don’t prioritize physical activity the way you should? Choosing to relax on the couch over going for a walk or lifting weights might be more convenient, but being sedentary rather than active can have significant drawbacks. 

Likelihood of Weight Gain

The less you move throughout the day, the fewer calories you burn. This means that being sedentary could lead to unwanted weight gain, especially if you’re consuming more calories through your diet than you’re burning through movement.

Weaker Joints, Muscles, and Bones

Both intentional exercise and general physical activity have powerful effects on the strength and mobility of your muscles, bones, and joints.

Both intentional exercise and general physical activity have powerful effects on the strength and mobility of your muscles, bones, and joints. The less often you use these body systems to work out or get active, the weaker they will become. This can put you at a much higher risk of injury.

Risk of Developing Disease

Being active helps to keep your immune system strong. The more you engage in physical activity, the less likely you are to get sick, even if you’re exposed to contagious diseases. Also, getting movement in can help prevent the development of some chronic health conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure.

Easy Ways to Increase and Improve Your Physical Activity

Living a sedentary lifestyle is a bigger health risk than you might think. Are you wondering what you can do to include the benefits of physical activity in your life? Don’t worry—you don’t have to sign up for a marathon to be active. Start small and explore different types of physical activity to find what you enjoy.

Go for More Walks

This low-impact form of aerobic exercise is so powerful that you can expect to live longer if you increase your daily step count by a few thousand steps. If it’s possible in your neighborhood, leave the car at home for nearby errands—or just get out in the fresh air for a while. Walking is easy, convenient, and free!

Do Housework

If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to keep up with chores, remember that housework is actually good for your health. Vacuuming, doing laundry, sweeping, and cleaning windows are all examples of common household chores that are great exercise.

Take the Stairs

Adding more movement throughout the day will increase your physical activity.

Choosing the stairs over the escalator or elevator is an easy way to burn more calories. The extra effort can add up to a great boost for your overall health!

Join a Local Gym

Adding more movement throughout the day will increase your physical activity, but an even more effective way to do so is to develop an exercise routine. If you want to learn more about different types of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, try reaching out to your local gym to ask about personal training options.

Don’t Forget Your Recovery

As you’re including more movement in your routine, don’t forget to help your body recover properly with nutritious food and drinks. A smoothie, bowl, or sandwich from Clean Juice is a simple and tasty way to get the protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs you need post-workout!

Feel Better From the Inside Out With Clean Juice

When it comes to a healthy body and mind, what you eat plays a huge role. At Clean Juice, we’re passionate about helping our community reach their wellness goals with a menu of clean, healthy choices that are just as tasty as they are good for you. Check out our menu online or find your nearest Clean Juice to order today!


Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. Consult your doctor before using any health treatment, including natural remedies, and tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications.

If you’re unsure whether physical activity would be a healthy addition to your wellness routine, ask your doctor if any of your health details might make physical activity unsafe for you.