Difference Between “Exercise” And “Workout” (8 Helpful Examples)

Have you ever been told to workout more? Or been asked how often you exercise? Aren’t those two the same thing?

Today, I want to look at the difference between working out and exercising.

What Is The Difference Between “Exercise” And “Workout”?

Although “workout” is a type of exercise, the two have different meanings. Exercise is just any form of activity, whereas a workout is done in a gym or with the intention of losing weight or gaining muscle. Exercise is important. Working out is a personal choice.

What Is The Difference Between "Exercise" And "Workout"?

But what counts as exercise and working out? Where do these words come from? Which is more important? Today, we’ll be answering all of that.

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What Does It Mean To Exercise?

Exercise is incredibly important. If you do not exercise regularly, you could find a variety of health issues. From obesity to mental health issues.

The reason why we are biologically wired to exercise is that for most of our history, we used to live in caves, and it was a dangerous world. Not only did we need to be fit enough to catch our prey, but should we become the prey, we had to get out of there, and fast.

To exercise is quite simply to get your body moving. This can be done in a gym but doesn’t have to be.

What Counts As Exercise?

Here are a few ideas of what you might already do for exercise.

  • Walking

    Yep, even if you take it slow, walking can be a fantastic form of exercise.

  • Sports
    Be that football, badminton, surfing, or cheese rolling, playing sports in a brilliant way to exercise.

  • Housework

    Most of us don’t think of housework as exercise. But you’re on your feet, carrying Hoovers, bending down, reaching shelves. Housework is exercise.

  • Sex

    Another one most of us don’t think of as exercise. But during sex, because we move our bodies, it counts as exercise.

4 Example Sentences That Use ‘Exercise’

  1. “I walked around the pond this morning. I know it’s not a lot, but light exercise is still better than no exercise”

  2. “I play football on Mondays and basketball on Wednesdays. So all in all, I would say that I manage to get plenty of exercise into my routine”

  3. “The only exercise I do is the housework. But I do it so much that I was able to lose enough weight to fit into my prom dress”

  4. “I like to go on a hike on Sundays. It’s good exercise and I get to explore the world around me. It’s very nice”


What Does It Mean To Workout?

To “workout” is a form of exercise. But, unlike exercise, when you workout, it’s usually done at the gym, and with a specific aim in mind. This aim could be to lose weight, build muscle, or get a rounder backside. It could even be just to improve general fitness.

It doesn’t have to be done in a gym. You could bring some weights to your local park and have a workout there. But if you do it in a gym-like environment, it still counts as a workout.

What Counts As A Workout?

Here are a few examples of things that you could do to work out.

  • Machines
    These are those strange looking contraptions that you often see in the gym. They are designed to be for lighting weights safely.

  • Weight lifting
    Usually, this is done with dumbbells. But, if you don’t have access to them, lifting anything heavy will provide the same thing.

  • Those stationary bikes
    These are a little weird in my opinion. If you’re going to cycle, you might as well cycle somewhere and do something nice or useful. But, using one is a workout.

4 Example Sentences That Use ‘Workout’

  1. “I got up early so I could go to the gym this morning. I often like to start my day with a workout, I find that it gives me the energy that I need to have a long and fulfilling day”

  2. “I started to change my workout when I realised that building muscle was more important to me than losing weight. I did put on some weight, but my body looks much better because of it”

  3. “I used to workout a lot when I was younger. But ever since I had kids, just finding the time to to the gym was been very difficult”

  4. “Do not workout in the evening. Your blood will be too pumping for you to sleep”

The Difference Between The Etymologies Of “Exercise” And “Workout”

Perhaps one way to better understand the difference between exercise and workout is to look at where each of the terms comes from.

Exercise comes from the old French “Exercice”, which we get from the Latin “Exercere”. The Latin word is made up of “ex” (meaning ‘from’) and “acere” (meaning ‘keep away’). So to exercise means “from keep away”. To be honest, I’m about as confused as you are right now.

The term “workout” didn’t come about until 1909. And it probably doesn’t take a linguist to figure out that “workout” is made of “work” and “out”. The idea was that you were getting all of the work out in one go in a spell of strenuous exercise.

Which Is More Important: Exercise Or Workout?

At this point, you might be wondering which one matters more? And that all depends on what kind of life you lead.

For some of you, you could be very concerned about what you look like. If that describes you, a workout is probably more important.

However, if you have other concerns such as being clean, winning sports, etc, then exercise would probably be more important to you.

From a pure health and well-being perspective, there is no denying that exercise is more important than workouts. But you may have other priorities.


And now we have covered all the key differences between exercise and workout. Hopefully, next time you hear one of those terms, you will now have a better idea of what it means.

You might even be able to spot where you exercise in your life. Perhaps you do it by walking the dog, or dancing, or doing housework.

If you choose to workout, that’s great. Just make sure to do it safely. However, no matter what, you should try to exercise every day.