‘Weekend Warrior’ Workouts Linked to Longer Lives


New research shows that “Weekend Warriors” have the right strategy when it comes to sticking to fitness schedules that require only one to two sessions per week.

Simply getting in these occasional moderate or intense workouts significantly decreases the risk of disease and death compared to being inactive, adding more credence to the “Weekend Warrior” lifestyle. 

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that those who perform 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts into one or two sessions per week, see substantially lower risks of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

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Many people argue the hectic lifestyle of having a family and/or a demanding job limits how much time they have to work out. So, these people tend to limit working out only to a couple of days per week, and are dubbed “Weekend Warriors” by hardcore fitness club members.

But until now, we never really knew if the weekend warriors who work out with harder, albeit less frequent, routines were realizing the benefit of a longer life.

“The risk of death from all causes was about 30 percent lower among weekend warrior adults compared with inactive adults, while the risk of cardiovascular disease death for weekend warriors was 40 percent lower and the risk of cancer death was 18 percent lower,” per a JAMA news release.

“The World Health Organization recommends that individuals aged 18 to 64 years should perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or equivalent combinations,” the authors reported. “Frequency and duration appeared not to matter among those who met physical activity guidelines. Some evidence suggests the risks for death were lowest among regularly active adults.”

One limitation of the study, led by Gary O’Donovan of Loughborough University, England, was that it was very homogenous in terms of race – 90 percent of participants were white.

Related: The Best Exercises to Help Fight Heart Disease

The study was conducted via surveys of 63,591 English and Scottish households completed from 1994 to 2012. Researchers queried interviewees about how often they performed light or heavy housework, gardening, and other do-it-yourself tasks. They also asked about their walking pace (slow, average, brisk or fast) and participations in sports such as cycling, swimming, running, football, rugby, tennis and squash.

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Men were more likely to be weekend warriors than women. The weekend warriors were also likely to participate in playing sports (94 percent). “The mean time spent in moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity was approximately 300 minutes per week for weekend warriors and approximately 450 minutes per week for the regularly active participants,” the authors reported. “However, the proportion of vigorous-intensity physical activity was higher in weekend warriors than the regularly active participants.”

Thus, they concluded, “The weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns characterized by one or two sessions per week of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity may be sufficient to reduce risk for all-cause, cardiovascular deaths and cancer mortality regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines.”