A Glossary Of Physical Activity Terms

Before we get too far in here on this little (but potentially life-altering!) journey into physical activity/exercise and asthma, and all that good stuff, I realized that while I don’t use really complicated words, per se, I should probably provide some more background on what, exactly, I mean by certain terms.
Don’t worry—there’s no test. I’m writing this so whenever you’re like “Huh?” and have your head cocked sideways at the computer at me, like “Wait… WHAT are you saying?” this should provide you a place to quickly look back to, for a plain-English explanation to what the heck I am talking about.

Here are a few of the terms I’ll be using a lot. If you forget, come on back here and we’ll review (or… you’ll review. I’ll probably be reading less useful content on the internet, or writing as Stuart the Minion stares me down..!)

Exercise A repetitive activity performed strictly for the sake of improving physical health or fitness abilities, such as strength or endurance.

Physical Activity Any activity that causes your body to use energy, that is (for our purposes), anything beyond the activities of daily living (like breathing, sitting, standing, and short bouts of movement).

Fitness The ability of your body to be able to carry out activities in relation to the demands set upon it. Broken into cardiovascular endurance (how efficiently your heart and blood vessels work and how long they can sustain that), muscular strength (how “strong you are”), muscular endurance (how long your muscles can sustain an activity—think planking, maybe?), flexibility (how much your muscles can move; decreases injury risk in most cases), and body composition (what ratio of muscle to fat is present in your body)

Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA) When your lungs respond to the demands of exercise in an annoying (and sometimes dangerous, if not managed well) way, and your airways decide to become inflamed (swell), muscles surrounding the airways constrict, and excess mucus is produced, making it difficult to breathe. Exercise induced asthma can come with the regular asthma package, or on its own. Because it thinks it’s fun that way.
Sometimes called “sports asthma”, although booking it to a bus often triggers my EIA, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a sport.

Exercise Induced Bronchoconstriction Arguably the same as Exercise Induced Asthma, above.

Activity Broadly, anything that you do to increase the amount of movement produced by your body—and preferably, get your heart rate increased! Can include sports, active “play”, exercise—whether that is jumping rope, climbing stairs repeatedly, lifting weights… you get the idea.

Sport(Please tell me why I opted to define sport?!) Sport is a combination of play, physical activity, and exercise. Loved by some, hated by others. Basically anything that can be turned into a competition that involves some degree of strategy and movement can be a sport. (…Maybe not politics, I heard a guy call politics a sport earlier today. Election coverage—brutal.)

Play Taking part in an activity for enjoyment or fun, rather than because that activity actually has a purpose. Play can be active or inactive, so for my purposes, I’ll usually be referring to play as being active participation in play activities. (Case in point, as one of my instructors once said while defining play, “I’m sure many of you are playing on the internet right now.” Touche, sir.)

Barrier Real, or perceived (a reason you think is real but actually is maybe not legitimate), reason you did not accomplish a thing (exercise, hobby, nutrition goal) you intended or planned to accomplish.
Example: a broken leg, Beat Bobby Flay marathon, or thunderstorm preventing a planned workout.

Lapse “I had a lapse in judgement” is a common thing to hear. A lapse is a brief, one-time return to an old behavior that is quickly rectified, or fixed, when it is realized that an old pattern may be emerging. 1

After Cora’s rest day, she felt as if maybe another rest day was a good idea and skipped her morning yoga class. By dinner (or, anytime within the next day or two) she realized she was not meeting her goal by taking another rest day, and found a short yoga practice on YouTube to fit into her evening.

Relapse Different from a lapse, a relapse is a complete return to old, undesired behavior. A relapse may occur over several weeks time. Relapses are often harder to recover from than lapses, as the goal does not seem worthwhile compared to the undesired activity. Relapses often have more physical, emotional, or psychological consequences, depending on the undesired action taking place (ie. inactivity—or over-activity, fast food consumption, smoking, drug or alcohol misuse, etc.) 1

Example: Sadie had been sticking with her nightly cycling routine, but when she got a Netflix subscription, she used her cycling time to watch Secret Life of the American Teenager. When she realized what she had done, she felt guilty, but did not feel that exercise was a better choice then relaxing on her couch watching teen dramas unfold—what could help her reduce stress than mindless television? After all, she felt like she had more time when she’d watch sitcoms each night before she began cycling, anyways. Sadie’s roommate comments that Sadie has been more jumpy and on edge—Sadie realizes she has felt more anxious without exercising, and asks her roommate to remind her of her commitment to ride her bike more.

Rebound A term I use not in relation to basketball, but with the same meaning: grabbing hold of the thing that got away, and regaining control to continue working towards your intended goal.

Example: After a busy period at work, Todd realized he’d been skipping his evening walks. That night, he and his partner made a plan to go walking every weekday evening for at least 15 minutes.

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