Weekend exercise quite OK for your fitness needs

ADULTS who perform 150 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) per week may experience similar health benefits whether the sessions are spread throughout the week or concentrated in a weekend.

So says a 2022 study published online July 5, which may be good news for busy women pressed for time in the week, but who also want to maintain a steady work-out routine.

The study, Association of the "Weekend Warrior" and Other Leisure-time Physical Activity Patterns With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, sought to assess whether performing the recommended levels of weekly physical activity in one to two sessions (weekend warrior) versus three or more sessions (regularly active) influence mortality.

The large prospective cohort study of 350,978 adults in the United States did not find any significant difference in mortality rates between weekend warriors and regularly active participants.

"Compared with physically inactive participants, active participants (both weekend warrior and regularly active) had lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates," the report said.

The adults in the study self-reported physical activity to the US National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2013. Participant data were linked to the National Death Index through December 31, 2015.

Participants were grouped by self-reported activity level: physically inactive (less than 150 minutes per week of activity); or physically active (150 minutes or more of moderate or 75 minutes or more per week of vigorous activity). The active group was further classified by pattern — weekend warrior (one to two sessions per week) or regularly active (three or more sessions per week); and then by frequency, duration/session and intensity of activity.

"The findings of this large prospective cohort study suggest that individuals who engage in active patterns of physical activity, whether weekend warrior or regularly active, experience lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates than inactive individuals," said the authors Mauricio dos Santos et al. "Significant differences were not observed for all-cause or cause-specific mortality between weekend warriors and regularly active participants after accounting for total amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity; therefore, individuals who engage in the recommended levels of physical activity may experience the same benefit whether the sessions are performed throughout the week or concentrated into fewer days."

Personal trainer Lennox Richards said this is good news for those women who may have thought that they weren't doing enough, if all they could manage was a day or two of activity per week.

"The most important thing is getting some consistent activity in, and complementing that with the right diet," he said.

"Weight loss is chiefly diet, and then exercise ensures that you maintain those muscles and get fit and lean, while at the same time improving your mobility and circulation."

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