There's no need to feel overly guilty about putting off a week’s worth of exercise to the weekend, according to a new study.
Researchers in England have found that “weekend warriors” – loosely defined as adults who complete the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise over one or two days a week – have a risk of death from all causes roughly 30 percent lower than adults who are largely sedentary.
"I think it's important to reassure people that if they are a weekend warrior, if they are only exercising once or twice per week, and it's of moderate or vigorous intensity, then that's good enough," said study author Gary O'Donovan of Loughborough University in England of the research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The research team looked at self-reported survey data from more than 63,000 adults ages 40 and up in England and Scotland, collected between 1994 and 2012. Throughout the study period, researchers found there were 8,802 deaths from all causes, 2,780 deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 2,526 from cancer.
"The present study suggests that some leisure time physical activity is better than none," the study's authors said.
While a journal commentary included with the study deemed it “encouraging news”, Hannah Arem and Loretta DiPiotro of George Washington University added that: “the role of physical activity patterns in reducing mortality risk may need to be considered within the context of one's sedentary patterns.”
The commentators added that it’s up for debate whether physical activity can always simply wait for the weekend. While aerobics fitness is one of the greatest predictors of mortality risk, varying physical activities offer other benefits, including prevention of dementia, high blood pressure and poor sleep habits. Since some of these benefits are short-lived, said Arem, exercising more frequently provides more benefits.
"I don't know that we're ready to say, based on this study, that people shouldn't try to exercise more than that if they can," said Dr. Daniel Rader, preventive cardiology chief at the University of Pennsylvania.
"People who exercise more regularly report that they feel like they have a better quality of life.”