A new study suggests that one or two workouts on the weekend can reduce the risk of death almost as regular exercise can. The study reported the exercise habits of 63,591 adults over 59 in England and Scotland from 1994 and 2012.
According to the study, engaging in exercises only on the weekends may help to extend lifespan even if it’s not a regular practice schedule. The weekend warriors analyzed in the survey had about 40 percent lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease and 30 percent lower risk of overall death. As well, researchers said that according to the study, exercises on weekend benefits women as much as men.
“One or two sessions per week of moderate- or vigorous-intensity leisure time physical activity was sufficient to reduce death from all causes, from cardiovascular disease, and from cancer,” said study author Gary O’Donovan, research associate with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine at Loughborough University in England.
Quality may be more important than quantity
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults to have at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, or 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Doctors suggest people to try to exercise every day at least 30 minutes. However, not everyone has enough time to do so, as well, not everyone enjoys exercising.
Nevertheless, to have the same benefits that regular exercising offers, one can establish a “Weekend Warrior” training schedule. This new study analyzes how exercise patterns can reduce the risk of death. The data came from two national surveys: the Health Survey for England and the Scottish health survey. It was published on January 9 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
63,591 adults participated in the study from England and Scotland from 1994 to 2012. All of them were 40 years old or older. The average age was of 59, and there were practically the same amount of women as of men.
Researchers analyzed the health and possible causes of death of the participants, linking them with their exercise schedules. Almost two-thirds of the adults were described to be sedentary since they didn’t exercise. 22 percent were considered to be “insufficiently active” given that they did engage in exercising activities but it was less than the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise.
11 percent were considered “regularly active” exceeding the guidelines by doing exercise several times a week. On the other hand, 4 percent were the “Weekend Warriors” who met the time set in the guidelines in one or two sessions of exercise a week.
Being a Weekend Warrior has many benefits
Tough it is better to exercise on a regular basis, the researchers say that one or two workout sessions could reduce the risk of death as much as regular exercise can.
According to study leader Gary O’Donovan, weekend warriors had about 30 percent lower risk of overall death, 40 percent lower risk to die from a cardiovascular disease and 18 percent of dying from cancer. As many doctors have suggested, O’Donovan said that being a weekend warrior may postpone death.
“The best advice is to keep in mind that any amount of activity is better than none and it’s important to select an exercise that is consistent with your goals,” said O’Donovan. “And, if you can’t make time to exercise during the week, you can get at least some of the benefits by being a weekend warrior.”
According to Hannah Arem, assistant professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, this research is important, but she also highlighted that the study only focused on a white population of the United Kingdom. Therefore it doesn’t provide enough evidence to generalize to other populations.
For example, only one out of three adults from the United States gets the recommended amount of exercise a week. Only 3 percent of American adults said they accomplish the recommended amount of exercise in one or two sessions, according to a study published in the Journal Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, back in 2007. And though, everyone knows how beneficial it could be to have enough exercise a week, 24 percent of Americans said that they do not engage in any physical activity in their leisure time.
Being a weekend warrior may lead to injuries
Also, the survey didn’t focus on how this exercise pattern could impact on blood pressure, diabetes, depression, or weight control. It also left out strength, endurance, flexibility or risk of injury.
Weekend warriors generally engage in high-intensity activities. However, even when high-intensity exercises can be great for health, it can lead to a higher risk of injury or soreness for people who are not used to exercise regularly since these weekend warriors are not generally in good shape. However, anyone can boost their longevity if they exercise once or twice a week.
Source: The Ledger Independent