In Italian, we use a word that should be a loanword to mean "an activity such as race or march, practiced for training or healthy activity": footing.

An American friend of mine has never understood what I mean, and told me she doesn't use footing like that. I also looked at the NOAD, and the OED; both report the meaning of footing, but they don't give to the word the meaning we give in Italian.

What is the word that I should use to describe that kind of activity?

  • Racing and marching imply that you're doing it with other people. Is that the case? Or can you go footing by yourself? – Carolyn Feb 22 '13 at 2:28
  • It seems I missed the comment. Yes, I am referring to an activity generally done alone; you could go footing with somebody else, but it is not required as it is with racing. – kiamlaluno Jan 10 '16 at 18:40

Do you mean particularly foot based activities, i.e. running, heavy walking? Because, if it is so, then perhaps you can use jogging, which is like a light and gentle run.

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As Barrie says, the most common "generic" term is simply exercise, but there are alternatives:

The majority of 10,000 written instances of I work out to are followed by things like "stay healthy", but that expression doesn't tend to include outdoor activities like jogging, cycling, or "competitive games" such as squash which are often engaged in mainly for the health benefits.

It's also common in the UK to hear, for example, "I go [circuit] training to keep in shape", but I don't know if that usage is common in the US. And, again, it doesn't cover other activities as given above.

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I think most native speakers of English would just call it exercise, even though the word can mean other kinds of activity as well.

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