Research Shows Benefits of “Weekend Warrior” Lifestyle
Working out may stave off premature death, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to squeeze the recommended amount of exercise into your week. To combat this, the trend of “weekend warriors” has emerged: adults who condense physical activity into Saturday and Sunday. While opinions on how effective this is have been mixed, a recent study showed that the benefits for working out only one or two days are almost the same as spreading exercise throughout the week.
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at over 63,000 adults from the UK over 15 years, studying how long they exercised, what their exercise consisted of, and what days they exercised. The participants were grouped into two categories: inactive (those who never exercised) and sufficiently active (those who exercised for the recommended amount). The latter was split into those who worked out for three or more days a week, and those who compressed their activity into one or two days, the preference of about one out of every three American adults.
The so-called “weekend warriors” were primarily male and 90% of them participated in vigorous activities like competitive cycling or team sports one day a week. Compared to the inactive group, they were 29% less likely to die prematurely. However, those who spread their workouts over several days were still better off: they were 30% less likely to die early and their risk of heart failure was reduced by almost 50%.
However, weekend warriors are more at risk of sports-related injuries. Should this occur, consult an orthopedic surgeon so you can quickly and safely return to an active lifestyle.
What of the people that opt for frequent exercises in small doses? A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology studied 55,000 people over 15 years and found that even running just five minutes a day dramatically reduces incidents of heart disease and deaths from other causes.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week to prevent diseases and premature death. Unfortunately, about one-third of American adults don’t exercise at all and 80% don’t meet the recommendations. However, the results of these studies indicate that even small amounts of daily exercise can have considerable health benefits and hopefully could motivate formerly sedentary adults to integrate more activity into their week, even if just for short spurts at a time.