In my world, there is a definite line between intentional exercise and incidental activity.
Here are my simplified descriptions/definitions…
Intentional: Physical activity done with the SOLE purpose of improving/maintaining one’s fitness levels.
Incidental: [aka ‘active lifestyle’, ‘activities of daily living’ (ADLs)] This would include mowing the lawn (grass had to be cut anyway, right?), washing the car (you know it was filthy!) and the infamous “taking the stairs instead of the elevator” advice (didn’t you to need to get to a different floor anyway?).
While incidental activity is an important part of overall health/fitness/wellness, for most people, it’s not nearly enough to bring about the kind of changes you’d hope for when taking the time to participate in a exercise/diet program. To put it another way, intentional exercise supports your (hopefully) active lifestyle.
Assuming there are no medical/physical limitations or other reasons for concern, I give my “rookie” clients a target of 5 cumulative hours per week of intentional exercise. There are many reasons for this… Perhaps the most important reason is to create the exercise HABIT.
Just like brushing your teeth… you wake up and do it, right? You don’t complain about how boring it is to squeeze the toothpaste out of that tube onto that ‘intimidating’ toothbrush… after doing it for so long, it’s just a habit that you do with little thought and you still get the benefit of clean teeth, healthy gums, etc.
Fitness isn’t all that different. By simply showing up on a regular basis, you’re going to benefit. Until fitness becomes a habit, there’s really not a lot of sense worrying about the ‘minor details’ (i.e. all that fitness-geeky program design stuff people like me get paid to do).
The Power of Intention
By getting used to doing something… anything, with the sole purpose of taking care of YOU and the details often take care of themselves.