Working out only on the weekends is as effective as daily exercise for heart health, according to a study

  • A new study has found that exercising only on the weekends known as a weekend warrior is still good for your heart.
  • The researchers found that the weekend warriors had similar heart health to those who exercised more regularly.
  • This isn’t the first study to find that a concentrated bout of exercise can still be beneficial for heart health.

Working out regularly is a goal for many, but work and life can make it difficult. Well, a new study has good news: You may get the same heart health benefits from working out only on the weekends (known as a weekend warrior) as you would if you worked out all week.

The study, published in JAMA, analyzed data from over 89,000 people who participated in the UK Biobank (a biomedical database) and used accelerometers to track their movements over a week. The researchers specifically looked at the relationship between participants’ exercise patterns and self-reported heart problems.

The study found that people who concentrated their exercise efforts over the weekend had the same reduced risk of a number of heart conditions, including myocardial infarction (heart attack), heart failure and stroke, as those who spread their workouts out throughout the week.

Increased activity, even when concentrated on one or two days a week, may be effective for improving cardiovascular risk profiles, the researchers concluded.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. While most people tend to think of it as needing to exercise for a certain number of minutes or hours a day over the course of a week, the guidelines don’t specify how that time should be distributed.

But why might so-called weekend warriors have heart health similar to people who exercise more frequently? Here’s the deal.

Why might exercising on the weekends be just as beneficial as exercising every day?

It’s important to note that the study didn’t find why this was the case, it only found a link. However, doctors say the findings seem to indicate that achieving at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is what matters.

Our findings suggest that efforts to improve physical activity, even when concentrated on one or two days a week, should be beneficial for cardiovascular risk, says study co-author Patrick T. Ellinor, MD, Ph.D., acting chief of cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the Cardiovascular Disease Initiative at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. It seems to be the total volume of activity, rather than the model, that matters most. Basically, the results indicate that you could do two 75-minute workouts over the weekend or some variation of that and still walk away with good heart health.

Exercise as a whole is important for cardiovascular health, and it may just be the case no matter when you do it, says John Bahadorani, MD, a board-certified interventional cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, CA. It has a positive impact on the heart and blood vessels, he says. Regular physical activity strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL).

Exercise, whenever you can, can help someone maintain a healthy weight, improve blood circulation, and improve their ability to use oxygen efficiently, says Dr. Bahadorani and all this contributes to good heart health.

Dr. Bahadorani points out that there are some limitations to this study to be aware of. One is that people were only monitored for a week and may have changed their behavior during that time. Another is that the accuracy of how vigorously people exercise might be difficult to measure.

But this isn’t the first study to suggest that working out on the weekends is as effective as working out all week. A study of over 350,000 people published in JAMA last year found very little difference in the risks of dying from all causes, or from cancer or cardiovascular disease in weekend warriors versus those who hit the gym during the week.

What do doctors advise about exercise and heart health?

Most doctors suggest just doing what you can. Dr. Bahadorani recommends finding a form of exercise you enjoy, considering options like walking, swimming, dancing, or biking. This, he says, makes it easier to stick to a routine.

She says it’s also a good idea to set realistic goals. Start with attainable goals and gradually increase the intensity and duration as your fitness level improves, he says. Creating a schedule for when you’ll work out and recruiting friends can help, as well as mixing up your workouts to prevent boredom, she says.

Dr. Ellinor says he and his team want to continue studying the benefits of weekend-only exercise. We’re planning to evaluate whether weekend warrior-type activity has similar benefits on other diseases across the spectrum of human conditions, says Dr. Ellinor. Our findings may also motivate future studies of concentratedly delivered physical activity interventions, which may be more practical and efficient.

Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamor, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, she lives on the beach and hopes to own a tea pig and a taco truck one day.

#Working #weekends #effective #daily #exercise #heart #health #study
Image Source :

Leave a Comment