What’s The Difference Between Exercise and Training?

Most people consider exercise and training to mean the same thing in their vocabulary. They think both terms refer to moving your body to burn calories and achieve a certain physical goal.

However, there’s actually a big distinction in plans of execution, goals, and timelines between exercise and training.

What is Exercise?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. And the National Institutes of Health defines exercise as a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive and has as a final or an intermediate objective the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness.

Many activities can fall under the umbrella of the term exercise, such as hiking, jogging, swimming, riding a bike, or playing sports. Any physical activity that raises your heart rate above its normal resting rate is considered exercise.

While there are endless benefits of getting regular exercise, it is difficult to fully reap those benefits due to the irregular nature of exercise. Exercise is typically something you’d do for its own sake, without a particular goal or target in mind. Exercise is also relative from person to person. The stress of a particular activity is only as effective as its relative intensity. Without a regular pattern, it may be difficult to gauge the overall progress or effectiveness of exercise.

Regular exercise has been proven to improve cardiovascular health, improve sleep cycles, improve mental health, and reduce the risk of certain diseases. It’s definitely true that some exercise is better than none at all.

But the issue is that most people set short-term goals when it comes to exercise. You put your body under physical stress every time you exercise, but only to lose weight or burn calories to hit a specific goal. The exercise and progress may not be systematic or measurable, and the goals may not be long-term.

What is Training?

Training, on the other hand, is defined as performing some physical activity driving toward a specific intention or long-term goal. Training activities are geared toward making someone skillful in a certain area of specialization. People who train are building strength and endurance for a specific purpose. Runners train to run a marathon within a desired timeframe, lifters train to reach optimal performance for their competition, and boxers train to prepare for their upcoming fight.

Unlike exercise, training is highly organized. Training requires working out in a structured way that measures performance and tracks progress. Every training session is planned based around the desired results in question. When you are training for an event or goal, performance must be evaluated regularly. So you can’t just skip a week from going to the gym because you are tired or don’t feel like it. If you don’t stay on schedule, you may be giving away success potential.

In general, training aims to achieve a certain level of performance efficiency to obtain a goal. Therefore, with training comes planning. Planning is crucial to achieve the desired goal, and must be done strategically in order to make it successful. This is where having a personal trainer can be extremely beneficial to strategically work toward your goals rather than haphazardly exercising here and there.

Training requires commitment to goals and time. People may take up exercise while searching for a shortcut to achieve goals that might take months or years to reach. But they often get discouraged when they don’t see immediate results and quit.

Or, they may quit exercising once they have reached the desired shape or size as they don’t see any more reason to continue after “reaching” their goal.

Whereas exercise involves sets of physical activities to help someone achieve a good state of health or certain physique, training involves building resistance and strength over time. Training not only provides direction for a specifically desired result, it also provides a long-term road map for results and success that are sustainable and efficient.

Which Is Better For You?

There’s no real right or wrong answer, but it depends on your goals. If you’re just trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle, then exercise may be enough to fit your needs. But if you’re looking for a more organized routine that leads to measurable results, then you should go for training.

Contrary to popular belief, training is not only for high-performing athletes. Everyone can start training! Adopting a personal training program is a great way for anyone, even fitness beginners, to be more organized. It can actually be quite beneficial for beginners to start with a personal trainer as they can help you plan strategies to make the most progress in the fastest amount of time

Because fitness and personal training is not a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing, a trainer will need to take your strengths, weaknesses, experience, and goals into consideration before coming with a routine. Also, the time it takes to see results may vary.

It’s true that any sort of regular physical activity is beneficial to one’s health and will lead to some kind of result regardless, but training can provide a more structured, streamlined, faster, and measurable way to achieve your goals.