Weekend exercise still cuts mortality

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Compressing the recommended amount of physical activity into a weekend rather than spreading it over the whole week may be sufficient to reduce all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality, say researchers in JAMA Internal Medicine.1

Guidelines from the World Health Organization and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity. The guidelines advise spreading this throughout the week, but many busy people find this difficult. Little research has looked at the effects of a “weekend warrior” physical activity pattern, in which the recommended level of activity is crammed into only one or two sessions a week.

The researchers, from Loughborough University, UK, carried out a pooled analysis of 63 591 adults from 11 cohorts of respondents to English and Scottish health surveys. Data from 1994 to 2008 were collected, and the mean age of participants was 58.6 years.

Trained interviewers asked the participants about the amount of physical activity they had carried out in the previous four weeks. They then divided the participants into four categories—inactive; insufficiently active, if they did less than the recommended amount of physical exercise; “weekend warrior,” if they did the recommended amount of exercise in one to two sessions; or regularly active, if they spread it over three or more sessions.

The researche...