A new study, published in the Jama Internal Medicine journal, has just proven that people who do bursts of exercise on weekends instead of following the daily guidelines experience almost identical benefits, which is great news for everyone!
Experts previously believed that five days of sedentary or no movement, such as being slumped over a desk for an average work week, could never be undone through vigorous weekend exercise but this new study proves that it can.
What are the general exercise guidelines?
The National Health Service (NHS) recommends that adults do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity to lower the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer. A combination of both is also highly recommended.
What are Weekend Warriors?
Dr. Gary O’Donovan, a professor at Loughborough University and the lead author of the study, explains: “The weekend warrior activity pattern, characterised by one or two sessions per week of moderate or vigorous physical activity, may be sufficient to reduce the risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines.”
What are the benefits of the Weekend Warrior lifestyle?
Small studies have previously suggested that cramming the week’s exercise recommendations into just two days on the weekend could risk injury or could put too much pressure on the heart.
However, this new study shows that the Weekend Warrior lifestyle actually has significant long-term health benefits, helping to reduce the risk of premature death from several types of disease.
How was the new exercise solution discovered?
The exercise habits of more than 63000 British adults were studied between 1994 and 2012, during which time there were 2780 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 2526 deaths from cancer, and a total of 8802 deaths.
For those who exercised, whether during the week or vigorously on weekends, the risk of mortality was significantly reduced, especially when compared to the sedentary individuals.
Those who participated in the Weekend Warrior lifestyle had a 40% lower risk of heart disease, an 18% lower risk of cancer, and a 30% overall lower risk of premature death. In comparison, those who spread out the exercise throughout the week had a 41% lower risk of heart disease, 21% lower risk of cancer, and 35% lower risk of premature death, which proved that nearly identical health results could be achieved by focusing on weekend exercise only.
What if you’re too tired to exercise?
Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney and a senior author of the study, said: “It is very encouraging news that being physically active on just one or two occasions per week is associated with a lower risk of death, even among people who do some activity but don’t quite meet recommended exercise levels. However, for optimal health benefits from physical activity, it is always advisable to meet and exceed the physical activity recommendations.”
The study also showed that fewer women than men participated in the Weekend Warrior lifestyle, which proves than more women need to be encouraged to get active over the weekend if they’ve had a sedentary week.
“Compared to inactive people, the results reveal that the insufficiently active, weekend warriors and people with regular physical activity patterns had reduced risks of death,” said Dr. Stamatakis.
This means that, no matter how tired you are or how sedentary your week may have been, the weekend is the perfect opportunity to get your body moving again to benefit your overall health long-term. It really is that simple!