If you struggle to find the time to work out during the week, this news should be reassuring: A January 2017 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has linked squeezing in just one or two exercise sessions during the weekends to significant health benefits.
Researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Sydney found that participating "weekend warriors" (aka people who spread the recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise over only one or two workout sessions) had a low risk of early death similar to that of those participants who spread the same amount of exercise over seven days, the BBC reports.
The results, which were based on a survey of approximately 64,000 adults (age 40 or older) in England and Scotland, compared exercising participants with inactive participants. They found that those participants who worked out just one or two days per week had a 41 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent lower risk of dying from cancer than inactive participants.
There was little contrast, however, between those who worked out one or two days per week (think: weekend warriors) and those who exercised regularly three or more days per week: People who exercised more often during the week had a 41 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 21 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.
This study shows a link between less-frequent exercise sessions and lower risk of early death, not causation, but it's exciting news nonetheless. For study author Gary O'Donovan, PhD, the link shows the importance of "purposeful" fitness (versus frequent fitness), which should be welcome news for those with busy lifestyles.
"Millions of people enjoy doing sports once or twice a week, but they may be concerned that they are not doing enough," Dr. O'Donovan told the The Guardian. "We find a clear benefit."
NHS guidelines state that in order to stay healthy, adults ages 19 to 64 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, such as cycling or fast walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or tennis.