Some Exercise Is Good, Even if It’s Only on Weekends

Bosu ball and yoga mat at Carelife Medical

Some Exercise Is Good, Even if It’s Only on Weekends

Some Exercise Is Good, Even if It’s Only on Weekends

Moderate-intensity exercise once or twice weekly is associated with lower risk for premature death.

Most guidelines on exercise to promote health and longevity recommend moderate-to-vigorous−intensity activity several days weekly. Benefits of exercise performed 1 or 2 days weekly (usually on weekends, the so-called weekend-warrior pattern) are less clear. In this study, researchers linked health-behavior survey data from nearly 64,000 English and Scottish adults (mean age, 57) with national mortality data. Participants were classified as inactive (63%), insufficiently active (22%), weekend warriors (4%), and regularly active (11%). Weekend warriors were defined as those who performed at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity weekly during one or two sessions; regularly active participants performed the same amount of activity in three or more sessions. Insufficiently active participants exercised at lower-than-recommended levels.
During mean follow-up of nearly 9 years, more than 8800 participants died. After adjusting for chronic diseases, health risk factors, and demographic variables, all-cause mortality was significantly lower among those who were insufficiently active (hazard ratio, 0.69), weekend warriors (HR, 0.70), or regularly active (HR, 0.65) than among inactive participants. Relative risk reductions for cardiovascular-related death were similar to those for all-cause mortality; relative risk for cancer-related death was lowered somewhat less, but with similar relations among groups.

COMMENT

Many clinicians who exhort patients to exercise convey the message that “some is good, and more is better.” These results do not quite support the “more is better” half of that aphorism, but they do support the value of exercising at least moderately intensively once or twice weekly. That level of exercise was associated with health outcomes that were only slightly inferior to those of people who exercised more frequently.

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