Practice makes perfect.
✓ Susan practises playing the piano for two or three hours a day.
✗ Susan *exercises* playing the piano for two or three hours a day.
Susan si esercita a suonare il piano per due o tre ore al giorno.
If you do something regularly in order to do it better, you practise it. We call this practice. (Notice that the verb is spelt practise while the noun is spelt practice.)
If you move your body energetically to get or keep fit, you exercise or do exercise. When it has this general meaning, exercise is usually singular (uncountable). When we do an exercise or exercises, we do a series of regular movements or actions to get or keep fit or practise for a specific physical activity. We also call short activities that we do (for example at school) in order to learn a particular skill or mental ability an exercise or exercises.
This means that we could translate the Italian expression esercitazioni pratiche as practice exercises (!), using practice as an adjective.
So, to clear up any confusion, here are some examples illustrating practise/practice:
✓ I've practised doing this move so many times that it's automatic.
✗ I've *exercised* doing this move so many times that it's automatic.
Mi sono esercitato a fare questa mossa talmente tante volte che è diventata automatica.
✓ We have football practice three times a week after school. (practice = training)
Abbiamo l'allenamento di calcio tre volte alla settimana dopo la scuola.
✓ The children are practising for the school show.
I bambini si stanno esercitando/preparando per il saggio a scuola.
And some examples illustrating exercise:
✓ Swimming is the most complete exercise.
Il nuoto è l'attività fisica più completa.
✓ These maths exercises are really hard!
Questi esercizi di matematica sono veramente difficili!
Now try the quiz below! There are TEN answers. The pass mark is 90% (9 out of 10). Click on the blue arrows to go to the next or previous question. You can check your answers immediately or when you've finished the quiz.