Last summer, we wrote a blog about how “weekend warriors” can be as fit as folks who work out daily. The way people exercise varies greatly; some use chores as a form of workout, others use exercise to unwind, and some are busy all week and work out on Saturday and Sunday. New research has confirmed that people who pack their exercise into two days have a low risk of heart disease, failure and stroke — about the same as people who work out daily.
The researchers said that the timing of a workout didn’t matter as much as the amount as far as heart health was concerned. As long as a person gets their exercise, the body doesn’t seem to notice when it gets done.
“We found that both the active regular pattern and the weekend warrior pattern were associated with very similar reductions in risk of heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and stroke,” said lead study author Dr Shaan Khurshid, staff electrophysiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
For many people, exercising on weekends is more practical or manageable. The important thing is getting 150 minutes of exercise a week. The argument against being a “weekend warrior” is that you may be more likely to get injured. Some studies have suggested that weekend warriors are as used to exercise and are more prone to injuries. However, you should be fine if you warm up and cool down correctly. And, just like any other form of exercise, you must build up your workout. You can’t start by doing 150 minutes of exercise your first weekend.
“The biggest concern is overuse injuries,” said Keith Diaz, an exercise physiologist and an associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia Univ. “You can’t go from zero to 60 in two days. There are plenty of weekend warriors with no injuries, but their bodies have acclimated to it… You’re constantly fighting the body’s tendency to go back to the disuse state.”
Your body starts to revert to a state of inactivity after three days. Weekend warriors will always be fighting an uphill battle. However, if you like it and find it works well for you, you don’t have to listen to the people telling you daily workouts are the only healthy option.
Ultimately, the important thing is finding a way to fit exercise into your week in a way that fits your lifestyle. Maybe you’re a runner or a cyclist, do a ton of chores or dance in the kitchen. As long as you get your heart pumping, you are helping yourself live a healthier life!