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Weekend Warriors Take Heart

Weekend WarriorsUntil recently, little was known about the benefits of low-frequency physical activity. A study published by authors O’Donovan et al. in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that individuals who perform all their physical activity in one or two sessions during the week may still reduce their risks of all-cause cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.1

The study included eleven cohorts of respondents to the Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey. Data were collected between 1994 and 2012 and included respondents older than 40 years of age. There were 63,591 respondents and physical activity was self-reported. They were considered inactive if they reported no moderate or vigorous intensity activities and insufficiently active if they reported less than 150 minutes per week in moderate intensity and less than 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activities. Regularly active participants reported more than 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity or more than 75 minutes per week of vigorous activities from more than three sessions. Those reporting more than 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity or more than 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity from one or two sessions were classified as “weekend warriors.” 

From the 63,591 respondents included in the analysis, 8,802 deaths occurred from all causes, 2,780 occurred from CVD, and 2,526 occurred from cancer during 561,159 person-years of follow-up. 

The study showed that “weekend warriors” who perform all their physical activity in one or two sessions during the week sufficiently reduced all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality risks regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines. The authors concluded that this study suggests less frequent bouts of activity, which may fit into a busy lifestyle, offer considerable health benefits, even in the obese and those with major risk factors. 

  1. O’Donovan G, Lee IM, Hamer M, Stamatakis E. Association of “weekend warrior” and other leisure time physical activity patterns with risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality. JAMA Inter Med. 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8014