What Is The Difference Between Exercise And Training?

Exercise and training, two terms which are often used interchangeably but actually have rather different meanings. According to the dictionary each can be defined as:

Exercise – bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health

Training- the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained

Anyone else slightly confused by the latter? If I could re-write these definitions for the realm of fitness they would look a little more like this… 

Exercise – physical activity performed with a by-product of health and fitness in mind.  

Training – physical activity designed to achieve a specific performance related target

For peak athletic performance training is the way forward, random exercise will not cut it. However bear in mind that pursuing high-end physical performance can come at the detriment of health:

"Playing sports is a good thing for ordinary people; sport played at the professional level is not good for your health. It pushes your body to limits that human beings are not naturally equipped to handle" Rafael Nadal

Of course, training is not confined to elite athletes alone and does not have to result in the degradation of your health. For example almost everyone would benefit from training to become a little stronger or training to move more effectively. Training can also be incorporated into an effective fat loss plan. In fact I think having a few performance related goals within a fat loss context is an excellent way to motivate and inspire your physical activity. Would you rather train with the purpose of getting stronger and fitter or train with the purpose of burning a few calories? Bear in mind the former will lead to the latter anyway.

On the flip side, perhaps you care little for the idea of structured training and prefer to simply build exercise into your week with no attachment to the performance outcome. This is totally cool too! A healthy lifestyle full of nutritious food, plenty of rest and regular exercise will do great things for your physical and mental well being. Indeed, as a personal trainer whose primary line of business is to help people lose weight I use a blend of both approaches. My clients follow a structured and progressive training routine coupled with with regular low intensity exercise, it works great!

At the end of the day let’s not get our pants in a twist over semantics… some people like to train, some people like to exercise, some don't care what it is called, they just like to move.