Many people are largely sedentary during the week and then active over the weekend. Adults should get 150 minutes of exercise a week. The question has always been whether that had to be split up evenly to see a payoff. New research says “weekend warriors” do see beneficial results, despite exercising only a couple of days a week.
For some people, fitting in their steps during the week is easy. Cleaning, cooking, errands, chores and hobbies like gardening can all be good forms of exercise. But for people with desk jobs who work long hours, it can be difficult. Living a sedentary lifestyle contributes to health risks and the risk of early death.
The good news is that being physically active, even if it’s confined to the weekend, can lower the risks. Research found that there wasn’t a significant difference in the death rates between people who were active daily and “weekend warriors” who got the same amount of moderate or vigorous physical activity.
“This is good news considering that the weekend warrior physical activity pattern may be a more convenient option for many people to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity,” said the study author Leandro Rezende, adjunct professor at the Federal Univ. of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
The researchers tracked more than 350,000 adults in the U.S. for more than a decade. They compared the health of people who exercised daily to people who exercised once or twice a week. When they worked out for the same amount of time, and with the same intensity, there was no difference in their health.
There are some benefits to working out daily that can’t be ignored. One hundred and fifty minutes is a lot to fit into two days if you aren’t a physically fit person. Some people enjoy long hikes and bike rides: that’s how they unwind from their weeks. Others want a leisure-filled weekend. It could be that breaking exercise into 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is more manageable for some people. That might be even more achievable when you think of it in terms of cleaning the house, doing yard work and going to the grocery store. It really depends on your lifestyle.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior who looks forward to breaking a sweat on Saturday, or someone who needs a nice bike ride to unwind on Monday, you can take comfort knowing that however you get exercise is fine. As long as you get physical activity into your week, you are helping your health.