Being a personal trainer Orange County, I first read Ken Hutchins’ “Exercise vs. Recreation” article in 1996. I give some thought to his ideas in this area that they are some of the most important ideas from the history of exercise taught. They’ve certainly improved my quality of life significantly. And chances are you probably haven’t heard of these ideas prior to discovering this article. I really hope the ideas benefit you as they have me.
With this context, “exercise” denotes activity that is done to enhance the body physically (increase strength, endurance, cardiovascular efficiency, aid in losing fat, preserve or increase bone thickness and lean muscle mass, etc). “Recreation”, however, refers to things that we all do for fun and enjoyment (which are psychological purposes). On his essay about the subject, Ken identified 5 key dissimilarities between what appropriately qualifies as “exercise” and what qualifies as “recreation”: Exercise is logical. Recreation is instinctive. Recreation is anything you feel is fun for you (“instinctive”), whereas proper exercise comes from a logical approach of looking at how to efficiently, effectively, and safely load the muscle and joint functions on the human body.
The principles of exercise are universal. Recreation is personal. The muscle and joint functions on the body of a human are essentially the same for all of us, so the requirements for effectively loading the muscles to provide effective exercises are universal (pertains to everybody). In a sense, effective exercise is the same for everybody. Recreation, on the other hand, is personal. What I enjoy doing for fun is quite different to what you enjoy.
Exercise has general transfer to many other activities, whereas recreation is specific. The benefits of exercise (stronger muscles, more endurance, better cardiovascular efficiency, etc.) will enhance your capability to perform any physical task (including running a race or carrying groceries from the car to your kitchen). Recreational skills are specific for that activity itself, and the motor skills learned from one task do not transfer well with other activities (learning the ability of swinging a golf club can do little to improve your bowling game, for instance).
The intention of exercise is physical. The intentions of recreation are psychological. As previously mentioned, the fundamental purpose for exercise is to boost your body physically. Recreation is for fun, leisure, relaxation, etc. (i.e. mental and psychological reasons).
Proper exercise is not fun. Recreation is fun. Recreation has to be enjoyable for you – that’s the whole motive for doing so! Exercise, however, is about loading the muscles of your body in a demanding manner, and that’s not fun when you are doing it effectively. The results and advantages of exercise are certainly fun but if the procedure of exercising is fun, most likely it’s not challenging enough for the muscles to qualify as meaningful exercise.
What exactly are the practical implications of such ideas? Essentially it’s the only certain version of strength training (including slow-motion training for strength) qualifies to be included under a useful concept to the word “exercise”. And it is not useful to consider other activities as “exercise”. (That does not mean other exercises 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 instance, before starting to be enlightened about this subject, years back I played basketball considering that it was fun and likewise because I thought it was good exercise. Now I discover that if compared to the muscular loading produced through proper strength training, basketball gives haphazard, inefficient, and often low strength muscular loading. Because of this, basketball is relatively ineffective for stimulating physical improvements with my body. Also, the high-force pounding my joints experienced from thousands of hours of running and jumping started to make me feel the result of osteoarthritis on my knees at age 23 (very young for a person’s joints to start deteriorating!). As an alternative for a better body, basketball had given me the opposite result as far as my prematurely worn out knees were concerned.
I would have been better off if I’d separated exercise and recreation, stimulating change in my body from rational strength training, and just played basketball because it was fun to do (instead of thinking that it was something best for me physically).
As I became convinced of Ken’s ideas on the topic and quit all of the non-strength training activities I’d previously considered to be “exercise”, I didn’t get stronger or weaker, and I didn’t get leaner or fatter after ceasing those activities. The only difference was my knees started feeling much better after eliminating the pounding I was taking from the jogging along with other similar things I’ve been doing. Exercise for me now is safer and even more effective, and the things I do for recreation are usually more fun simply because I only do them for fun and never because I feel like I need to do them for exercise.
My recommendation as a personal trainer Orange County is to execute sensible strength training for exercise to enhance 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 efficient and also more dangerous, and recreation is less fun. Keep them separate and I believe you’ll be more satisfied.
Related Exercise Articles