People who exercise mainly on the weekends may reap significant health and survival benefits, on par with people who work out more regularly, researchers say.
The study looked at survey responses from nearly 64,000 people, and grouped them in four categories: inactive, insufficiently active, weekend warrior and regularly active. All three groups of people who got exercise fared better than people who were inactive.
Comparing weekend warriors to inactive adults, researchers found that those who exercised just one or two days a week saw about a 30 percent lower risk of dying.
The risk of cardiovascular death for weekend warriors was 40 percent lower and the risk of cancer death was 18 percent lower than among inactive adults.
“In response to the question of whether activity can wait for the weekend, the short answer is perhaps, because [the study shows] a lower mortality risk with a compressed activity pattern,” said an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.
“Still, further mortality benefit was observed with more frequent activity, and individuals may have to consider other health outcomes (eg, mental health, diabetes, etc) and individual constraints (eg, time, access, etc) in deciding which activity patterns work best for them.”
“The encouraging news emerging from this new report is that for those who exercise less frequently, meeting the guidelines minimum in only 1 to 2 sessions per week yields some mortality benefit.”
Despite the study’s limitations, its authors described their findings as “statistically powerful,” and said it backed up previous research by Harvard University that tracked 580 people and found a lower death risk among weekend warriors compared to sedentary men.
Experts say physical exercise boosts health by lowering cholesterol, controlling weight gain, improving sleep patterns and reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.