Sarah Terry
January 13, 2017 1:04 pm

Getting fit and or staying in shape can be tough and time consuming. Therefore, many of us are “weekend warriors” who workout only on the weekends when we have time. But we have good news, because that’s good for you. In a recent study, “Weekend warriors” showed survival benefits from working out hard only a few days a week. So get your booty to your bootcamp class, even if it’s only on the weekend. Because just those couple of hours of intense activity could reduce your risks of dying prematurely. We can all get behind those health benefits.

Until now, the standard recommendation for exercise was 75-100 minutes per week, depending on intensity.

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Breaking those minutes into reasonable chunks, we were supposed to exercise 3-5 times per week. If you workout moderately, you were supposed to get about 2 1/2 hours of exercise in, but if you go super hard, you only needed about an hour and fifteen minutes. These guidelines gave us an estimate of the activity needed to reduce the risks of certain chronic diseases that might cause us to die young.

But statistics show that most Americans either don’t exercise at all, or exercise once or twice per week.

Until now, few scientists had researched the effects of the “weekend warrior” pattern, where a person exercises vigorously on the weekends only. But now, a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that these workouts can improve our health.

The study compiled data from 63,591 middle-aged men and women, who provided descriptions of their workout patters for 15 years. The researchers took into account how many minutes each participant exercised each week, what kinds of exercise they did, and how many times per week they worked out.

The research singled out one group that jammed their workouts into only one or two sessions per week.

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These workouts, of course, didn’t necessarily have to land on the weekends. Researchers just wanted to analyze whether doing only a few workouts per week affected a subject’s risk for cardiovascular disease or cancer. The majority of participants labeled “weekend warriors” by the study were males. And the majority were participating in intense sports like running, cycling, or team sports like soccer for their exercise sessions.

The study concluded that any exercise substantially lessened the risks that a subject would die from any cause, including cancer and heart disease.

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Even if the subjects didn’t exercise as much as the recommended minimum, they were still about 29% less likely to die prematurely. And in fact, the reduced risks were similar between the group who exercised more and the “weekend warriors.” That’s such amazing news. That means that if you can only make it to one bootcamp or one barre class per week, don’t feel like you’re wasting your time. That activity can improve your health!

We love that this news should help reduce the guilt we feel for not working out enough.

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Our lives include so many stressors that workouts and fitness should be fun. We hate feeling pressure and guilt to get to the gym more often when we simply don’t have the time. That’s why we find these results so encouraging. To know that small efforts do make a difference lessens the stress of “staying fit.”

Although the study still points out that more regular exercise still helps maintain weight and aerobic fitness. Still, pat yourself on the back even if you just made it on one long weekend run, because you’re still improving your health, no matter how small the step.