Can’t find time to exercise? Study shows that weekend exercise alone can produce huge health benefits

A new study shows that exercising just once or twice a week can help dramatically reduce your risk of mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

We work out for different reasons. We want to look good, feel better, gain confidence. Or perhaps we want to decrease our risk of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

A new study took a different approach to looking at the relationship between exercise and mortality. Granted, we don’t like thinking about our death very much, but the study found that active adults had a 30% less risk of mortality from all causes. This included so-called “Weekend Warriors,” or adults who only exercises one or two times a week.

So, what does this tell us? If you’re too busy to hit the gym every day, just 75-150 minutes of moderate to high intensity physical activity once a week could help save your life, dramatically.

When we look at the specific mortality rates assessed in the study, we see that these “weekend warriors” lowered their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 41% and cancer by 18%, when compared with those who were inactive.

How much is enough?

People in the age range of 19-65 should try to do:

  • At least 2 hours of moderate physical activity, of an aerobic nature. This could include cycling, fast walking, dancing like nobody’s watching, building a large snowman, or pushing a snow-blower
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week, trying to work all your major muscles. This could include bodyweight exercises you can do at home for free, lifting weights at the gym.

Dr. Gary O’Donovan, the author of the study and an expert in physical activity in health at Loughborough University, said the key was doing exercise that is “purposeful, and done with the intention of improving health.” He added, “You are not going to fidget or stand your way to health.”

But, the takeaway from the research: every little bit counts. If you need to start slowly, start slowly. Adding any amount of exercise into your daily routine will almost always be beneficial.

Or, if you’re too busy for that, become a “weekend warrior” and get it all done at once! This study, at least, shows that you can make big strides in your overall health and decrease your mortality rates by getting it all done for the week at one time.

Most importantly: pick an exercise routine that works for you and that you can commit to over time.

Always remember to talk with your primary care provider before starting a new exercise plan. If you need to find a primary care provider, use our Find a Doctor tool here or call UP Health System – Marquette at any time at 844.411.UPHS to find a doctor in Marquette, Harvey, Escanaba, Sault Ste. Marie, and across the Upper Peninsula.

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