Keywords: Exercise, health, cardiovascular mortality (PubMed Search)
The WHO and the US Department of Health and Human Services, among other groups, recommend between 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week.
This could add up to almost 45 minutes a day!
Who has the time for that?
This is an extremely challenging goal with work and other life responsibilities.
Some recent studies asked whether routinely cramming the recommended weeks’ worth of physical activity into a couple of days, weekend warriors (WW), leads to the same life-extending benefits as distributing the exercise load throughout the week.
In a retrospective analysis of almost 90,000 individuals (56% women), providing a week of accelerometer-based physical activity data: Three activity patterns were compared: active weekend warrior (active WW, ≥150 minutes with ≥50% of total achieved in 1-2 days), active regular (≥150 minutes and not meeting active WW status), and inactive (<150 minutes).
A weekend warrior (WW) pattern of physical activity was associated with similarly lower risks of cardiovascular outcomes (incident atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke) compared with more evenly distributed physical activity.
Another large prospective cohort study of over 350,000 US adults (51% women) did not find any significant difference in mortality rates between weekend warriors and regularly active participants. Compared with physically inactive participants, active participants (both weekend warrior and regularly active) had lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates.
Take home: Any exercise is better than none. Adults who perform 150 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) per week may experience similar health benefits whether the sessions are spread throughout the week or concentrated in a weekend.
Note: Being a weekend warrior can increase the risk of MSK complications and injury..
Future studies should include the use of wearable devices and not rely on self-reporting exercise behavior.
1. Khurshid S, Al-Alusi MA, Churchill TW, Guseh JS, Ellinor PT. Accelerometer-Derived “Weekend Warrior” Physical Activity and Incident Cardiovascular Disease. JAMA. 2023;330(3):247–252.
2. dos Santos M, Ferrari G, Lee DH, et al. Association of the “Weekend Warrior” and Other Leisure-time Physical Activity Patterns With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Nationwide Cohort Study. JAMA Intern Med. 2022;182(8):840–848.