Exercising only on weekends still found to lower risk of early death
Juggling work, chores, family and friends can make it difficult to find time for exercise throughout the week, but a new study suggests squeezing some in on the weekend is well worth our while. The research compared the risk of early death among those who exercise regularly during the week and those who cram it on the weekend, and in good news for these so-called “weekend warriors,” the authors report no significant difference between the two.
According to the US government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should be aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. Some might meet this mark through a daily jog before breakfast, while others might go for a long bike ride on the weekend instead. The authors of the new study set out investigate whether these differing lifestyles had an impact on an important benefit of exercise: namely, lowering our risk of an early death.
Led by Mauricio dos Santos from Brazil’s Universidade Federal de São Paulo, the research team tapped into data on 350,000 adults in the US. These subjects self-reported their physical activity and were sorted into different groups depending on their exercise regimes. This classified them as physically inactive, regularly active and undertaking three or more workouts per week, or weekend warriors who crammed their workouts into just one or two sessions.
The subjects were followed for an average of 10 years, with the scientists reporting almost 22,200 deaths in that time. More than 4,000 were due to cardiovascular disease, and around 6,000 from cancer. Whether they were weekend warriors or regularly active, the authors found that those meeting the exercise requirements benefitted from lower mortality rates, either from specific causes or any cause.
What was most interesting, however, was that no significant difference was observed between the weekend warriors and regularly active participants. There are of course many other benefits to regular exercise that include boosting our mood and cognition, enhancing our metabolism and lessening symptoms of anxiety, but the research does suggest that so far as physical activity relates to our risk of early death, making time to work up a sweat, even just on a Saturday or Sunday, can be hugely beneficial.
The research was published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine.