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Excerise vs. Active play

My friend Tairy over at Brinkeetos posted this insightful commentary on the difference between exercise and active play. I often think about my own approach to exercise (how I have to force myself to do it) and how I may have achieve the same result through active play instead. What are your thoughts?

By Tairy

Recently I made a comment on Twitter about a study on the Guardian paper titled “Under-fives should exercise for at least three hours a day, say experts

To which I received the following comment:

Dr. Kwame Brown: I hate this term “exercise”. This will lead us to the philosophy of forced time. That is not how play works. Words matter…

And of course, as soon as he said that, he made me realize that he was absolutely right! It does matters what you call things, when I say “exercise” I immediately get a mental picture of someone in sweat pants with a pained expression on his red puffy face, losing gallons of sweat per minute. However, when I say “Active Play” I see children running around having a good time… Are these children “exercising”? Well, of course they are! Exercise is defined as “any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness” (Wikipedia)

If you look up “Active Play”, you will find it defined as “any form of regular physical activity that babies and children do, which includes moderate to vigorous bursts of high energy, and which raises their heart rate and makes them ‘huff and puff’”

While the definition of both terms sounds very similar, the feeling that we get from them can be quite different.

To me, the words “Active Play” evoke freedom, laughter, learning, good times, and health. So lets remove the word “exercise” from our vocabulary and start using “active play” instead. After all, what do you rather have for dessert: “a theobroma cacao cake” or “a chocolate cake”?

Note: If you would like to know more about Dr Kwane Brown and Active Play, you can visit his website at

(Brinkeetos is a new baby gym in Kanata, ON. Children can participate in  age-appropriate activities help develop their cognitive, physical, and social skills as they train and have fun.)


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