Health experts have long recommended getting about 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, each week. Which we typically carve into four or five sweat sessions at the gym throughout the week.
But squeezing in a workout even a few times during the workweek takes a lot of effort. (Anyone who says it’s easy to set their alarm for 5 a.m., or sneak out during a lunch break, or run from the office to spin class to the grocery store to pick up dinner, is full of it.)
Luckily, we have some fantastic news: It seems that you may be able to save the exercise for your weekend to-do list and be no worse off.
While logging those 150 minutes is a good goal, a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that how often you exercise might not really make much of a difference when it comes to your lifespan.
The researchers found that people who exercised only one or two days a week lowered their risk of dying early from any cause by 30% to 34%, compared to people who were inactive. The shocker? Those who exercised most days of the week only lowered their risk by 35%. Not much of a leg up, huh?
And it wasn’t just lifespan, but cancer risk and heart health, that saw no positive change from increased frequency. People who exercised regularly and those who exercised only a couple days each week both cut their risk of heart-related death by about 40%. Everyone who exercised, regardless whether it was every single day or twice, lowered their risk of dying from cancer by 18% to 21%, compared to those who didn’t exercise at all.
Obviously that means you really need to put your workouts in high gear on the weekends—we’re not talking leisurely walking your dog around the block here. Plus, those with more specific health goals like weight loss or muscle growth may have their own reasons for hitting the gym every single day.
That being said, if you’re just getting back into a workout routine or simply trying to maintain a basic level of health as you get through the winter, channeling your inner “weekend warrior” will get the job done.
So while you’re still running on the fumes of motivation from New Year’s, up at 6 a.m. every morning to squeeze in a 30-minute jog, there may be a better way to ease into your fitness goals that doesn’t feel like pure torture. Like a long run on Saturday and an hour-long spin class before brunch on Sunday, perhaps?
First round of Bloody Mary’s on us.
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