Being a ‘weekend warrior’ boosts health just as much as working out every day, according to new research.
People who cram exercise into one or two sessions at the weekend lower their risk of premature death as much as peers who spread exercise through the week.
Both groups are less likely to succumb to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other killer diseases than couch potatoes.
Corresponding author Professor Yafeng Wang, of Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China, said: “The findings of this large prospective cohort study suggest individuals who engage in active patterns of physical activity, whether as a weekend warrior or regularly active, experience lower mortality rates.”
They were similar for all illnesses once the total amount of exercise was taken into account.
At least 150 or 75 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity respectively is advised for 18 to 64-year-olds.
So a person could meet prevailing guidelines with a brisk 30-minute walk five days a week or an hour and 15-minute jog once a week.
The findings in JAMA Internal Medicine are based on more than 350,000 adults in the United States followed for just over a decade, on average.
Out of almost 22,000 deaths, there were eight and 15 percent fewer in weekend warriors and regularly active individuals, respectively.
Prof. Wang said: “We found they had similar all-cause and cause-specific mortality, suggesting when performing the same amount of physical activity, spreading it over more days or concentrating it into fewer days may not influence outcomes.”
It has implications for those who struggle to find time owing to work or family commitments.
They may find it easier to fit less frequent bouts of physical activity into a ‘busy, busy’ lifestyle.
Prof. Wang said: “Does performing the recommended levels of weekly physical activity in one to two sessions – weekend warrior – versus three or more sessions influence mortality?
“This large prospective cohort study of 350,978 adults in the U.S. did not find any significant difference in mortality rates between weekend warriors and regularly active participants.”
“Compared with physically inactive participants, active participants – both weekend warrior and regularly active – had lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates.”
He added: “Adults who perform 150 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity – or 75 minutes of vigorous activity – per week may experience similar health benefits whether the sessions are spread throughout the week or concentrated in a weekend.”
The international team looked at links between the weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns and deaths from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Prof. Wang added: “The findings underscore that regular physical activity has been associated with lower risks of all-cause and cause-specific mortality compared with physical inactivity.
“Most importantly, these findings suggest that whether the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity is spread out during the week or concentrated into fewer days, there may be no significant difference in health benefits.
“For people with fewer opportunities for daily or regular physical activity during their work week, these findings are important.”
Produced in association with SWNS.
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