If you struggle to find the time or motivation to do exercise during the week, don’t panic.
New research suggests cramming all your exercise into the weekend has almost the same health benefits as spreading it evenly throughout the week.
A study of more than 60,000 adults in England and Scotland found that those who complete one or two workouts at the weekend reduce their risk of death almost as much as people who exercise throughout the week.
These so-called “weekend warriors” were also found to have a significantly reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer when compared to inactive adults.
The NHS recommends adults complete 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running.
The study found that adults who met the requirements only though weekend activity saw similar health benefits to those who exercised throughout the week.
The researchers, from Loughborough University and the University of Sydney, followed participants over the course of 18 years.
They found that men and women who exercised throughout the week had a 35% lower risk of death than the inactive adults, with death from heart disease reduced by 41% and death from cancer reduced by 21%.
In comparison, those dubbed “weekend warriors” had a 30% lower risk of death than inactive adults, with 40% lower risk of death by heart disease and an 18% lower risk of death by cancer.
The researchers suggested the types of exercise we do at the weekend compared to the week may be a contributing factor.
“Millions of people in England enjoy running, cycling and sports participation at least once per week,” they said.
“Our weekend warrior participants undertook a large proportion of vigorous-intensity physical activity and quality may be more important than quantity.
“For example, running is a popular vigorous-intensity exercise, and low doses reduce mortality risk. Vigorous-intensity exercise increases cardiorespiratory fitness more than the same amount of moderate-intensity exercise.”
The findings are published in full in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine.