Swim Success Blog -- My personal soapbox on swimming, learning, and life

New Word for Health-Promoting Physical Activity

A useful word comes by combining the ph and activity from "physical activity" and the .h. from "health." In order to clearly specify a physical activity of the type that builds fitness versus just any type of physical movements, Elise coined the word, phactivity (pronounced factivity). Thus, phactivity specifies a critical difference between any physical movement in general and a health-promoting physical activity in specific.

An activity may be a physical activity without offering significant physical health benefits. An oft-used example would be the use of one's thumbs on a gaming device. In fact, strolling out and standing in center field offers relatively little in improved physical health. In contrast, running to and from center field is a phactivity, and various other types of participation in softball or baseball offer much-needed phactivity as well.

Sitting in the bleachers during a game is an activity, and one may employ physical movements such as cheering and eating popcorn. All of these activities may provide good rest and relaxation. However, that would not be considered a phactivity.

When we hear or read statements such as, "Children must be more active to avoid overweight and related health issues," we understand that refers to certain types of movements and activities like running to and from center field and not to other types of movements and activities like sitting in the stands cheering and eating. In addition, when we say children must be more active, we are not meaning to encourage more fidgeting in class or more thumb activity on a gaming device. It is understood that we want to encourage more walking, running, swimming, weight lifting, and many other fitness-enhancing movements.

So, to add precision to statements referring to health-promoting physical activities, I propose the use of the words, phactive and phactivities.

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