We know that physical exercise can improve our health. It lowers our blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and risk of cardiovascular disease. It helps us lose weight. It even improves our mood and mind.
Weekly exercise recommendations for adults
We also know not nearly enough people engage in regular exercise. The World Health Organization recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be quite as good, but could you get some health benefit from doing all your physical activity in one or two days of the week? We use the term weekend warrior for these people. These are people who work during the week, but they might play basketball for a few hours on a Saturday or go rock climbing on Sunday. They might do an all-morning group workout on a Saturday. (I see these people at my gym every Saturday morning!)
A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine studied almost 64,000 people to assess their physical activity levels and mortality risk as well as risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer specifically. The researchers then focused on the segment within that group who just did one or two sessions of activity per week –weekend warriors.
Does being a weekend warrior lower your risk of death?
Perhaps surprisingly, subjects who only performed one or two sessions of either moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity physical activity in their leisure time did have a lower mortality risk from all causes as well as lower cardiovascular disease mortality risk and cancer mortality risk.
This study might be great news for people with hectic work and personal schedules who find it difficult to run or get to the gym every day. These weekend sports or exercise sessions aren’t as beneficial as consistent exercise throughout the week, but it’s better than nothing.
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Gary O’Donovan, PhD; I-Min Lee, ScD; Mark Hamer, PhD; Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD. Association of “Weekend Warrior” and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online January 9, 2017.