Only run at the weekend? People who cram a week’s exercise into two days still reap heart benefits

weekend warriors

Weekend warriors are as healthy as daily runnersGetty Images

The results from a major study on ‘weekend warriors’ – those who perhaps don’t get the opportunity to workout during the week, and cram all their exercise into the weekend – suggest that, actually, squeezing workouts into one or two days is as good for your heart as daily exercise.

While public health guidelines recommend adults do 150 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week, it’s been unclear whether the same benefits come from concentrated exercise or more regular, spread-out physical activity.

But the research, which analysed nearly 90,000 adults, shows that even if you’re too busy to exercise during the working week, making up for the inactivity at the weekend can still improve cardiovascular health.

The participants enrolled in the UK Biobank study all wore wrist-based devices that recorded their physical activity on each day of the week. The study revealed that 42 per cent were classed as ‘active weekend warriors’ (those who met the NHS exercise guidelines of 150 minutes, mostly over one or two days of the week), 24 per cent were ‘regular’ exercisers (who spread out their exercise over the week) and 33 per cent were inactive.

Both concentrated exercise at the weekend and spread-out exercise were associated with lower cardiovascular health risks compared with inactivity. The risk of heart attack was 27 per cent lower in the weekend warrior group and 35 per cent lower for those who spread their exercise over the week. The stroke risk was 21 per cent lower in weekend warriors and 17 per cent lower in regular exercises.

‘Physical activity concentrated within one to two days was associated with similarly lower risk of cardiovascular outcomes to more evenly distributed activity,’ the authors write in the JAMA journal.

So, it’s good news if you only run at the weekend, as this study shows that when it comes to exercise, it doesn’t actually matter when you do it in the week, just that you do actually do those 150 minutes of exercise in the first place.

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