As with every new year, people resolve to be more active, exercise regularly, or lose weight. Unfortunately, people tend to approach these health resolutions with unrealistic goals. For instance, working out at the gym everyday for an hour is not necessary. When it comes to exercising, health experts typically recommend 75-minutes of vigorous exercise to 150-minutes of moderate exercise. Also, it’s not fair to put such expectations on yourself, especially if such a workout regimen is entirely new. Moreover, people are simply too busy to hit the gym everyday. As a result, people are cramming the recommended weekly amount of exercise into one or two days. The media has dubbed those involved in this growing trend the “weekend warriors.” However, until recently, no studies proved the benefits, if any, from a weekend-warrior approach.
New Study Reveals the Benefits of Any and All Exercise
As it turns out, it doesn’t matter whether you space out your workouts or cram them in on the weekend! Researchers at Loughborough University in England conducted a study, proving that, regardless of how or when you exercise, you significantly reduce the risk of premature death. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine on January 9, 2017, involved a survey of approximately 64,000 adults in the UK from 1994 to 2008. Over the course of the survey, the researchers categorized the participants in four categories based on how much they exercise.
- Inactive – 63% of participants
- Regular exercisers (meet guidelines) – 11% of participants
- Insufficiently active (don’t meet guidelines) – 22% of participants
- Weekend Warriors – 4%
Study Results Show Longer Lifespans
By the end of 2016, 8,802 of the participants died. The results revealed insufficient exercisers, as well as weekend warriors, have a 30% lower risk of dying than inactive adults. Results for regular exercisers were only slightly better; they lowered their risk by 35%. Furthermore, active individuals significantly reduce their chance of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America. The participants that exercised versus those that didn’t had a 40% lower risk of heart disease. As for the second leading cause of death in America – cancer – exercisers had an 18% lower chance of being diagnosed. In addition to reducing chances of heart disease, exercise also combats dementia, depression, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, and diabetes. With all these benefits, there’s no reason not to exercise. Even if the workout is short or only on the weekends, it will drastically improve your quality of life.
“It is very encouraging news that being physically active on just one or two occasions per week is associated with a lower risk of death, even among people who do some activity but don’t quite meet recommended exercise levels,” said the study’s lead author, Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, from the University of Sydney.
Since exercise frequency and duration doesn’t matter, as the study showed, we’ll probably see a rise in the weekend warrior movement. Just remember: changing one’s lifestyle or losing weight is not an overnight achievement. It takes time. So instead of getting burned out from going to the gym everyday, start small. Take a short walk around your neighborhood. As Hannah Arem, a health researcher at George Washington University said, “if someone is completely inactive, the best thing they can do is even getting out and taking a walk.” If walks aren’t your thing though, then check out some 5-minute workouts on YouTube.