Exercise: Once a Week Will Do It!
It’s the total number of minutes you exercise, not how often, that matters.
Posted January 11, 2017
Weekend workout warriors, rejoice! A study out of George Washington University, published in the January 9, 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that weekend-only exercisers reap the same benefits as those who work out five days a week.
If you can only get to the gym on Saturdays and Sundays, but you put in your weekly recommended 150 minutes, or 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise, or just 75 minutes, or an hour and 15 minutes of intense exercise during that time, you’re good to go! You’re likely to add almost as many years to your life, and the proverbial “life to your years,” as someone who exercises all week long. You’ll not only improve the quality of your day-to-day life, but also reduce your risk of developing chronic health issues like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
According to Harvard School of Public Health, moderately intense exercises include brisk walking, at 4 miles per hour; bicycling at 10-12 miles an hour; playing badminton or tennis doubles; or even doing chores like heavy house cleaning and maintenance, such as vacuuming, window washing, lawn mowing. Vigorous or intense exercises include hiking, jogging at 6 miles per hour, bicycling at 14 to 16 miles per hour; playing tennis singles; and playing basketball or soccer.
It’s up to you. If you have time or a preference for exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, do it! But if your schedule is such that you can only get to the gym or pound the pavement on weekends, this study—which surveyed the exercise habits of more than 63,000 men and women aged 40 and older—found that, on average, those who exercise according to recommended guidelines live years long than those who don’t exercise at all.
But there is one catch: Those who exercised on weekends only met or exceed the recommended guidelines one or two occasions. Those who exercised more regularly met and exceed the guidelines more often. Since more is usually better when it comes to exercise, it may pay for some weekend warriors to squeeze in another session during the week.
Note: If you’re older than 35, new to frequent or vigorous exercise, significantly overweight, pregnant, have high blood pressure, asthma or lung disease, arthritis, kidney disease or diabetes, smoke or quit recently, have a family history of heart disease or are simply unsure of your health status, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends seeing your doctor before beginning any exercise program, to determine which type and how much exercise is best for you. Also check with your doctor is you experience any type of pain, shortness of breath, swelling, dizziness or heart sensations during or after exercise.
O’Donovan G, Lee I-M, Hamer M. Association of weekend warrior and other leisure time physical activity patterns with risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality. JAMA. January 9, 2017.
Arhem H and DiPietro L. JAMA Commentary: Physical activity on the weekend: can it wait until then? January 9, 2017.
Harvard School of Public Health. Example of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity.