Being A 'Weekend Warrior' Helps Offset An Inactive Week, Research Suggests

Just because your week has been inactive doesn’t mean you can’t make up for it by exercising on the weekend.

Recently, an international team of researchers analyzed the exercise routines and health of more than 350,000 U.S. adults who joined the National Health Interview Survey from 1997-2013 to check what could be learned about different physical activity approaches.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers found that those who exercised regularly during the week have a slightly lower mortality risk than “weekend warriors,” or people who exercise during the weekend.

“But these differences were not statistically different, so we can say that they are comparably beneficial," said Donghoon Lee, one of the study’s co-authors and a nutrition research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Those who achieved a total of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate activity over one or two days weekly had an 8% lower risk of all causes of death than those who were physically inactive. They also had the same risk of death from all causes, heart disease and cancer as those who exercised the same amount but over three to five days.

“If you can't exercise regularly, you can still get those health benefits from fitting 75 to 150 minutes of exercise activity into one or two days, such as on a weekend. Even though researchers focused on ‘weekend warriors,’ it can be any day of the week,” added Lee.

The findings add to what is already known about the benefits of constant physical activity. For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) has offered guidelines for physical activity, suggesting that adults should have at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.

While experts have suggested that exercise should be spread throughout, that’s not always feasible. Hence, the researchers noted that getting exercise on the weekends is a step toward improving one's health.

Some vigorous exercise and physical activity examples that Lee enumerated were running, jogging, swimming laps, aerobic dancing, and biking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vigorous exercise should yield a heart rate of about 142 beats per minute.

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