Study: Exercising on the weekend may replace the need to exercise daily

Many people live in a struggle between the pressures of daily life and the needs it imposes that require more work and time, and the pressures of health awareness and improving lifestyle. which insist on their minds all the time that there is no escape from healthy nutrition and regular exercise, to prevent diseases and enjoy a long life.

This may cause a state of guilt, which is not without physical and psychological repercussions among people who are too busy to exercise regularly, and who can hardly exercise on the weekend only.

Hence the importance of the results of a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, which was published last July, and which undermined some of the prevailing beliefs about only exercising on the weekend, and whether it is safe and effective or not.

The study indicated that those who exercise only on the weekend can be as physically fit and healthy as those who exercise regularly throughout the week, and they are also less likely to suffer from heart problems than those who rarely exercise, and that the appropriate time to exercise is whenever we can. Or we wanted to, even if it was only on Saturdays.

Weekend warriors

No one denies the benefits of exercise for public health. The World Health Organization has recommended that adults engage in moderate physical activity for periods of no less than two and a half to five hours in total, or one and a quarter to two and a half hours of vigorous activity every week. This includes exercise for fun and physical fitness, or motor activities while performing job tasks, or doing household chores.

However, what about the demands of modern life that can hinder consistent daily exercise for some individuals? This often leads to the practice of condensing physical activity into a few days, resembling the behavior of “weekend warriors.” These individuals may postpone strenuous activities until vacations or leisure time, or dedicate their weekends to pursuing sports and hobbies, provided that they possess a certain level of physical fitness to enjoy the associated health benefits.

The results of the two methods converged in reducing the risk of death

two methods converged in reducing the risk of death

To compare the effectiveness of these two types of weekly physical activity in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and fatal stroke, the study conducted an analysis using the “Biobank in the United Kingdom” database. The database consisted of data from nearly 90,000 individuals who wore wrist-worn activity tracking devices. Over a period of 7 days, the study monitored the participants’ heart and blood vessel conditions.

Among all the participants in the study, around one-third (33.7%) were classified as inactive. These individuals failed to meet the minimum physical activity guidelines established by the World Health Organization, which recommend engaging in two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. It is noteworthy that this study spanned six years, enabling a comprehensive assessment of the participants’ activity levels.

And about 42.2% of the active ones met the recommended limit, but within a day or two, the “weekend warrior” style. The remaining quarter of participants (24%) were regularly active, spreading the recommended duration over the days of the week.

 The researchers found that the two active groups – compared to the inactive ones – showed a similar reduction in the incidence of:

  • Heart attacks were 27% lower among those active on the weekend, and 35% lower among those active regularly.
  • Heart failure was 38% lower among those active on weekends, and 36% lower among those active regularly.
  • Irregular heartbeats were 22% lower among those active on the weekend, and 19% lower among those active regularly.
  • Stroke was 21% lower among those active on weekends, and 17% lower among those active regularly.

Supplementary data from the study also showed that a good session of exercise reduces risks to heart health; Such as: blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels for a day or more; It provides better protection against heart and circulatory diseases in the long term.

Science opinion

Numerous scientific studies and reviews over the past 20 years have indicated that “weekend warriors” gain significant health benefits from their high-intensity exercise routines.

A notable study conducted in 2004, involving approximately 8,500 American men without serious chronic conditions, took the lead in examining this matter. The findings revealed that individuals who engaged in physical activity during the weekend exhibited a lower risk of mortality compared to inactive participants. This comprehensive research, spanning five years, highlights the significant impact of exercise on overall well-being.

Another study published in 2017 found, after analyzing data from more than 63,000 adults from England and Scotland, who were followed over a period of 12 years; “Weekend warriors’ irregular physical activity patterns may reduce their risk of death.”

A prospective study – conducted by the UK Biobank and published in 2022 – also showed; Just 19 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week was associated with a 40% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

This was followed by an analysis published by the same body in the same period, which showed that practicing one minute of vigorous physical activity, 3 to 4 times a day, can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by approximately half.

This means that the new study and previous research agree that “weekend warriors” get heart benefits from just a few days of exercise, without getting more injured than other exercisers.

Therefore, if it is difficult to exercise during a busy week, you can plan to perform moderate or vigorous physical activities on a few days of the week, or on the weekend; This is encouraging, and much better than not performing any physical activity.

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