Meaning of EXERCISE in English


I. ex ‧ er ‧ cise 1 S2 W2 /ˈeksəsaɪz $ -ər-/ BrE AmE noun

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: French ; Origin: exercice , from Latin exercitium , from exercere 'to drive on, keep busy' ]

1 . FOR HEALTH [uncountable] physical activities that you do in order to stay healthy and become stronger:

Try to fit some regular exercise into your daily routine.

Working in an office, I don’t get much exercise.

do/take exercise

Most people need to do more exercise.

gentle/light exercise

Gentle exercise can be beneficial for older people.

vigorous/strenuous exercise

After the operation, you should avoid strenuous exercise.

2 . MOVEMENT [countable] a movement or set of movements that you do regularly to keep your body healthy:

stretching exercises

You can do exercises to strengthen your stomach muscles.

3 . FOR A SKILL [countable usually plural] an activity or process that helps you practise a particular skill:

relaxation exercises

role-play exercises

4 . IN A BOOK [countable] a set of questions in a book that test a student’s knowledge or skill:

Do Exercises 3 and 4 on page 51 for homework.

5 . FOR A PARTICULAR RESULT [singular] an activity or situation that has a particular quality or result:

closing libraries as part of a cost-cutting exercise

It’s a pointless exercise.

exercise in

Buying a house can be an exercise in frustration.

6 . ARMY/NAVY ETC [uncountable and countable] a set of activities for training soldiers etc:

a military exercise

on exercise

Half the unit was away on exercise.

7 . the exercise of something formal the use of a power or right:

the exercise of political leadership

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ do some exercise ( also take some exercise British English )

He ought to do more exercise.


He was advised by the doctor to take more exercise.

▪ get some exercise

I don’t get enough exercise.

■ adjectives

▪ good exercise

Swimming is very good exercise for your muscles.

▪ regular/daily exercise

Taking regular exercise is the best way to improve your overall health.

▪ physical exercise

Physical exercise keeps you fit and helps to reduce stress.

▪ hard/strenuous/vigorous exercise (=involving a lot of physical effort)

Pregnant women should avoid strenuous exercise.

▪ gentle/light/moderate exercise (=not involving too much physical effort)

Try to do some gentle exercise as part of your daily routine.

▪ aerobic exercise (=in which you breathe deeply and your heart beats faster)

Aerobic exercise, such as jogging or cycling, is a great way to burn off fat.

■ phrases

▪ a type/form of exercise

This type of exercise is excellent for losing weight.

▪ lack of exercise

Children are becoming overweight through lack of exercise.

■ exercise + NOUN

▪ an exercise programme/routine/regime British English , an exercise program American English (=a plan that includes different types of exercise)

The athletes follow an intensive exercise programme.


I’m finding it quite hard to stick to my exercise routine.

▪ an exercise class

I usually go to my exercise class on Wednesdays.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ do an exercise ( also perform an exercise formal )

Try to do these exercises at least three days a week.

■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + exercise

▪ a basic exercise (=simple)

He showed me some basic exercises for strengthening leg muscles.

▪ keep-fit exercises

I couldn’t get to the gym, so I did a few keep-fit exercises in my bedroom.

▪ a warm-up exercise

Do some warm-up exercises before lifting heavy weights.

▪ a yoga exercise

Yoga exercises keep you supple.

▪ a breathing exercise

We do breathing exercises in my yoga class.

II. exercise 2 S3 W2 BrE AmE verb

1 . USE SOMETHING [transitive] formal to use a power, right, or quality that you have:

There are plans to encourage people to exercise their right to vote.

People who can exercise some control over their surroundings feel less anxious.

2 . DO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY [intransitive] to do sports or physical activities in order to stay healthy and become stronger:

It’s important to exercise regularly.

3 . USE PART OF YOUR BODY [transitive] to make a particular part of your body move in order to make it stronger:

Swimming exercises all the major muscle groups.

4 . ANIMAL [transitive] to make an animal walk or run in order to keep it healthy and strong:

people exercising their dogs in the park

5 . MAKE SOMEBODY THINK [transitive] formal

a) to make someone think about a subject or problem and consider how to deal with it:

It’s an issue that’s exercised the minds of scientists for a long time.

b) British English if something exercises someone, they think about it all the time and are very anxious or worried – often used humorously:

It was clear that Flavia had been exercised by this thought.

• • •


▪ exercise to walk, do sports etc in order to stay healthy and become stronger:

To lose weight, exercise regularly and eat less.

▪ do some exercise/a lot of exercise etc this phrase is much more common than the verb exercise , and means the same thing:

Her doctor said that she needed to do more exercise.


My son does very little exercise – I don’t know how he stays so slim.


Dogs need lots of exercise.

▪ stay/keep/get in shape to stay or to become physically healthy and strong – used especially when you consider exercise as a way to keep a nice-looking body:

Try jogging with a friend who also wants to get in shape.

▪ keep fit British English to exercise regularly in order to stay healthy and strong:

The class encourages older people to keep fit.

▪ work out to do exercise in order to be healthy and strong, especially to exercise regularly in a gym or exercise class:

He works out three times a week.

▪ tone up ( also firm up ) to exercise in order to make your body or part of your body firmer:

I need to tone up my stomach and legs.

▪ warm up to do gentle exercises to prepare your body for more active exercise:

It’s important to warm up before you begin to play.

▪ stretch to reach your arms, legs, or body out to full length, in order to make your muscles as long as possible, so that you do not injure them when you exercise:

Jog for five minutes, then stretch before starting on your run.

▪ limber up ( also loosen up ) to do gentle exercises so that your muscles are warm and not tight before you begin a more active exercise:

The footballers were limbering up before a training session.

▪ train especially British English to prepare for a sporting event by exercising in a particular way:

She’s training to do the London Marathon.

▪ practise British English , practice American English to do a sports activity regularly, in order to get better and prepare for competition:

The team practices on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.