Until recently, little-and-often was the exercise mantra: lying on the couch all week then going on a bike-riding bender at the weekend, experts believed, couldn’t compare with doing a bit of physical activity every single day. Now that view’s starting to change: a new study suggests that the ‘weekend warrior’ lifestyle can actually offer serious long-term health benefits.
But does that mean you can bin off the weeknight five-a-side in favour of a three-hour run on Sunday? Well, it depends on the benefits you’re hoping to get.
According to the new study of more than 63,000 adults, conducted by researchers at the UK’s Loughborough University, one or two sessions a week of moderate or vigorous activity ‘may’ be sufficient to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Compared to inactive individuals, Weekend Warriors had a 30 per cent low risk of death overall, a 40 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 18 per cent lower risk of dying from cancer – very similar to the risks seen in everyday exercisers.
A new study suggests that the ‘weekend warrior’ lifestyle can actually offer serious long-term health benefits
But mortality’s not the only point of exercise: other studies show that it increases productivity, can aid with depression and reduces anxiety. It also improves bone health, reduces the risk of late-life osteoporosis, and cuts down on your chances of arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Some of these benefits accrue if you only train intermittently: others kick in every day, making it worth trying to get some physical activity done every morning.
The best advice, as always, is to exercise when you can – and, up to a point, as much as you can. Whether that means 10 minutes of press-ups, pull-ups and squats every morning, or a two-hour slog through the woods at the weekend is really up to you.