Listen up, slackers: You can no longer use 'work' as an excuse to avoid burning calories during the week. It turns out, you could get your best workout in over the weekend, without lifting a finger Monday through Friday.
According to a recent study, cramming all of your weekly exercise recommendations (or goals) into one or two weekend sessions is just as good as working out during the week, and yields the same significant health benefits. Experts say staying active over the weekend was still enough to reduce the risk of early mortality by a third.
The observational findings — published in JAMA Internal Medicine — are based on a survey of about 64,000 adults aged 40 and up in England and Scotland. Researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Sydney analyzed data on middle-aged participants' active [or inactive] lifestyles, with a specific focus on 'weekend warriors' — those who clock in rigorous workouts on Saturdays and Sundays alone. They found that the health benefits are similar to those who remain active during the week, as long as they met the recommended guidelines. And compared with those who did not exercise at all, the weekend warriors showed a lower risk of dying from cancer by 18 percent, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 41 percent, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke. On average, participants who remained active during the week (three or more days) did slightly better; they reduced their risk of CVD by 41 percent, and cancer by 21 percent.
How much physical activity do adults need?
The CDC's Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends two types of physical activity to retain a healthy lifestyle: cardio and muscle-strengthening.
- Adults need at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week, and muscle-strengthening on two or more days during the week that work all muscle groups (legs, arms, back, shoulders, abdomen)
If 150 minutes — the equivalent of watching a long movie — sounds like a lot, think again: the CDC recommends you break this time into chunks during the week, rather than — as the study shows, cramming the entire session into one weekend. After all, weekends are for binge watching Netflix.