At ZOZOFIT, we understand that activity level is one of the most essential metrics when making decisions about your health and fitness. Researchers have confirmed the links between physical activity and quality of life, making it one of the best outlets to help you make positive changes. Understanding the different categories and where you fall within them is a crucial first step in progressing on your fitness journey.
What Does Activity Level Measure?
Generally, this term refers to the hours spent performing significant physical activity each week. While hardly a binding metric, activity level is a shorthand to help you understand how much movement you include in your daily routine and how it might impact your overall health and wellness. Think of the categories as a general rubric to start understanding and discussing the role physical fitness plays in your week.
What Is My Activity Level?
Determining how frequently you move can help you advance your fitness routine. Many questions might arise when looking at the basic categories. For instance, what is lightly active, and how does it differ from moderately active? How can you advance from one level to another? Here are descriptions of each standard level; which one best describes your lifestyle?
This level refers to individuals who perform up to two hours of physical activity a week. Those with a sedentary lifestyle typically do most of their movement in completing daily tasks and chores. People who work jobs requiring them to sit for most of the day sometimes fall into this activity level unless they add additional movement to their routine. In this scenario, you handle the physical stressors of everyday life without intentionally adding exertion outside those tasks.
Those who incorporate approximately three hours of physical activity a week into their routine are lightly active. They might integrate short walks into their schedule or do a quick workout most days. Individuals who work on their feet for most of the day may also be lightly active without needing to add other activities.
Three to four hours a week of activity put you at this activity level. From intense labor at a job, scheduled workouts throughout the week, consistent cardio activities like jogging, or other combinations of movements, moderately active individuals perform physical activity every day. It is a cornerstone of their daily life, beyond simply necessary movements.
The most active category describes individuals who perform five or more hours a week of strenuous activity. Very active people tend to have scheduled workouts on most days of the week or intentionally work lengthy walks or runs into their day. They may also have jobs that require significant physical strain, supplemented by workouts or cardio.
How Does My Activity Level Impact My Health?
Physical activity is one of the most significant influences on your overall health. It affects just about every aspect of your wellness, from the quality of your sleep to your mental clarity. Here are five ways that activity level can influence your quality of life.
1. Sleep Quality
Have you ever stayed awake for more than an hour at night, not quite drained enough to fall asleep? Often, the feeling of "not being tired enough" is a result of limited movement during your waking hours. Conversely, few feelings are as satisfying as falling right to sleep from the perfect amount of tiredness. Sufficiently moving your body throughout the day is fundamental to maintaining a healthy cycle of energy and fatigue, ultimately influencing the amount and quality of your sleep.
You might be surprised to discover the many proven links between activity level and digestive health. Core exercises and cardio can help relieve several issues, such as indigestion and bloating. The increase in gastric mobility that comes from working your abdominal and back muscles often leads to greater regularity. Many practice yoga for this reason, given that it features twists and motions that are excellent for regulating the intestines.
3. Mental Health
The benefits of regular activity extend far beyond the physical. You've likely felt the pleasant rush of energy following a workout or the flowing of endorphins that comes from a session at the gym. Research has proven that consistent activity has a positive influence on your very brain chemistry. What's more, many find the process of setting, tracking, and achieving their fitness goals to be a gratifying experience, worth the work on its own.
When it comes to your activity level, the benefits often compound. The better your fitness level, the easier it is to bounce back from injury or even the effects of a strenuous workout. For example, take a muscle injury. If your muscles are strong, supple, and primed for physical exertion, they will heal more quickly than underdeveloped or stiff ones. The same goes for illness, which generally impacts an active body less forcefully.
Given all of the benefits associated with regular activity, it is hardly surprising that wellness tends to have a cumulative effect over the course of your life. If you routinely experience good sleep and digestion, solid mental health, and quick recovery, you may also have an increased lifespan. Aside from the benefits listed here, there are many others, such as cardiovascular health, that have a greater impact on individuals as they age.
Who Should I Consult About My Activity Level?
As with all decisions related to your health, consult a trusted medical professional if you are unsure about your fitness and its impact on your health. A doctor or physician will guide you on your specific needs and which activities may be best for you. If you notice any pain or deterioration in your health after altering your routine, consult your doctor before continuing.