Exercise or Recreation? Why You Need to Know the Difference
If you’re new around here, there’s a chance your fitness routine might include more recreation than actual exercise.
When our founder, Matt Hedman first read Ken Hutchins’ “Exercise vs. Recreation” article in 1996 his paradigm of exercise was forever changed.
These principles of exercise vastly improved his quality of life and chances are they will for you too.
Exercise Vs. Recreation
Exercise is an activity that is performed to improve the body physically – increase strength, endurance, cardiovascular efficiency, help with fat loss, preserve or increase bone density and lean muscle tissue, etc.
Recreation refers to things that we do for fun and enjoyment which are psychological purposes.
In his essay on the subject, Ken identified 5 key differences between what appropriately qualifies as “Exercise” and what qualifies as “Recreation”:
In a sense, effective exercise is the same for everybody. We make exercise available for everybody too- try Virtual Personal Training.
Now that you know the difference between exercise and recreation, how does this information shape the way you exercise?
Only certain versions of strength training (including slow-motion strength training) qualify as “exercise.” And it’s not useful to consider other activities as “exercise.” That doesn’t mean other activities are “bad.” It just means they’re not useful for exercise.
Significant problems often occur when people mistakenly confuse and mix exercise with recreation.
For example, Matt Hedman used to play a lot of basketball both because it was fun and also because he thought it was good exercise. Now, we can see that compared to proper strength training, basketball provides haphazard, inefficient, and often low intensity muscular loading.
Also, the high-force pounding the joints experienced from thousands of hours of running and jumping resulted in him starting to feel the effects of osteoarthritis in his knees at age 23. Read more about his story.
Instead of an improved body, basketball had given him the exact opposite result as far as his prematurely worn out knees were concerned.
He would’ve been better off if he’d separated exercise and recreation, stimulating change in his body from proper strength training, and only played basketball to the degree that it was fun for him.
When Matt became convinced of Ken’s ideas on the subject and quit all the non-strength training activities he’d previously considered to be “exercise,” he didn’t get stronger or weaker, and he didn’t get leaner or fatter after ceasing those activities.
The only difference was his knees started feeling better after eliminating the pounding they were taking from the jogging and other similar things he’d been doing.
Exercise for him now is safer and more effective, and the things he does for recreation are more fun because he does them for fun and not because he feels like he needs to do them for exercise.
Exercise to Improve Your Body
Our recommendation is to perform sensible strength training for exercise to improve your body physically, and then make great use of your fitter body to enjoy all of the other activities you like to do for recreation – whatever they may be, including swimming, basketball, running a marathon, badminton, etc.
If you mix exercise and recreation, exercise is less effective as well as more dangerous, and recreation is less enjoyable.
Keep them separate, and you’ll be better off.
Jordan Thomson is passionate about fitness and helping others live sustainably healthy lives. Jordan joined The Perfect Workout in 2013 as a Personal Trainer in Newport Beach, CA. Since then she has helped expand our company with new studios in Chicago, IL and led teams of trainers in Philadelphia as well as Los Angeles. Now she serves as a creative mind within the Marketing team to help spread our mission to revolutionize the way people exercise.