Posts in exercise
Training vs Exercise: What's the difference?

What’s the difference between training versus exercise? And which should you do? Both have purpose, but the intention is different. Let’s break it down.

Exercise helps to keep you healthy. It’s a form of physical activity that you want to do consistently, in some capacity, for the rest of your life. You want to exercise daily. This can be in the form of a workout or simply walking your dog or biking to work. The intention is to move your body for the sake of keeping it healthy! And to do so through a range of intensities and activities to maintain healthy body weight and strength, increase mood and energy levels, combat illness and disease, and overall feel your best.

Training, although exercise, has a different intention than maintaining good health. Training gets you ready to compete - in a race, event, match, etc. It is a form of exercise that is acutely focused on preparing you to meet a particular performance goal. This could be running your first 5k or finishing a marathon. Or maybe running a race at a certain speed. You train because you are competing - either with yourself or others.

To determine if you should train or exercise, identify your anticipated outcomes. Do you want to lose weight and/or simply feel your best? Exercise. Do you want to run your neighborhood 10k or sign up for a long-distance swim? Train. Your desired results are your guide!

One thing to note: if you have found yourself losing the focus or motivation to exercise, consider training for something that will challenge you. Training might be the very thing that holds you accountable and gets you excited to exercise. It’s like knowing that a test or exam is coming…you study. If you know you’ve committed to a race - especially if your friends and family are running it too - you are more likely to keep a running regimen.

exerciseJulie Minchew
Need Workout Motivation? Find Purpose.

I spent most of my childhood in a pool. In fact, I was almost born in a pool - my mom went into labor with me while hanging out with my bro in the water. Swimming is in my DNA. I joined the neighborhood summer league when I was 6, then year-around club teams, then my high school team. I thought swimming would always be a part of my life, but as I got older I fell out of it. Other things took priority – academics, friends, partying, etc. It just didn’t hold space in my life anymore. After college, finding affordable pools in the city was hard. They aren’t as accessible for daily workouts like other forms of exercise. I stopped swimming.

A couple of years ago, I wanted to shake up my workout routine and joined the local Y to start swimming again. At first, I loved it. Getting back into the water was like going back in time: the familiarity of the strokes, the technique, the lingering smell of chlorine on my skin, the total body exhaustion. I missed it – all of it.

Despite this rekindling of my love for swimming, I got bored. Getting in cold water in an indoor pool at 6am proved daunting. Not having any friends who swam made it lonely. My excitement waned. I stopped swimming again.

But now I’m back. For the past several months, I’ve been swimming at least 2-3 days a week and pushing myself further and harder than ever. Why? What’s different? Purpose. I signed up for my first relay triathlon. My swimming now holds more meaning than just a workout. I’m training. I’m preparing for a race that involves other people who are counting on me – to practice, to push myself, to show up ready to race.

I’m not saying that you need to sign up for races or events in order to workout. Daily exercise should be a part of our routine just like brushing our teeth. However, if you’re in a workout rut and need motivation to try something new or revisit something old, put a tangible goal to it that will hold you accountable. For example, if you want to run more, sign up for a local 5k. Or if you want to do more pull ups, challenge a friend to a future competition.

Putting purpose behind your workouts (other than to be fit and healthy) is sometimes the edge you need to really see your potential. 

exerciseJulie Minchew
The Mental and Physical Benefits of Walking

I love walking. It's a great low-impact exercise. It gets you outdoors. It helps with digestion after a big meal (walk to dinner next time or take the long route back to your car - you'll feel energized rather than lethargic). It improves your mood. It's a more active way to catch up with friends. And even short little walks can shake off those afternoon sugar cravings.

But did you know that walking also spurs creativity? 

Yep. Taking a shower isn't the only time a great idea may arise. Check out this Quartz article that discusses a recent study by Stanford that proves the long-held belief that walking influences the way we think. This serves as a great reminder for those of us who work inside to get outside and moving in between meetings. If you have a meeting with just one or two people that doesn't necessitate a computer, suggest a walking meeting instead. Walking also helps if you're trying to figure out something or need to clear your mind for a bit. Just go for a walk!

I try to take walking breaks or schedule walking-meetings as much as I can. We spend so much of our days in and out of conference rooms and air-conditioned buildings. Walking serves as a refreshing, rejuvenating activity that will give you more energy than that second (or third) cup of coffee. 


Redefining the "Fun Run": Why Shorter is Better

I've always thought the longer you run the better - to always push yourself to go farther and farther. Distance is the more important goal. But the more I've gotten into running in the past year or so, the more I've learned that speed (and form) is what really should be the focus. 

In this FiveThirtyEight article, Christie Aschwanden discusses the benefits of sticking to 3.1 miles while debunking the claim that more is always better. We assume that in order to be considered a "serious runner" you need to clock some serious mileage. Half-marathons. Marathons. Ultra-marathons. But recent research, captured in this article, might prove otherwise.

Plus, by focusing on speed vs distance, your workout is shorter - allowing more time to stretch or add in some core moves.