When Monday rolls around, we tend to plan our best attack for the week ahead. Lofty ambitions arise of an early morning gym pump, followed by a run during the work lunch break, only to hit a boxing or spin class in the evening to break up the commute home. Of course, the alarm goes off and we immediately reach for the snooze. The idea of trading a warm bed for cold winds that lash the face seems moronic to say the least, and by the time Friday rolls around we look at the gym gear we laid out last weekend, all of it unused.
If you happen to find yourself lacking the willpower or the means to get some exercise in during the week, a new study suggests there might just be hope for you yet. A recent study conducted in the US suggests that one big burst of weekend exercise is just as beneficial to our health as spreading activities out across the week.
According to researchers from the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal, as long as individuals get in 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise a week, it doesn’t really matter when you work out or what you do. To land on such findings, they tracked 350,000 people over ten years to measure the differences between weekday and weekend workouts. While most involved in the study were able to meet the target of exercise minutes with workouts spread out across the week, others simply looked to cram the minutes into a few sessions. Even so, those in the latter category still had a lower death risk than those who didn’t get the recommended amount.
As the NHS suggests, “Exercise just once or twice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke,” and when it comes to the type of exercise, this can be moderate, vigorous, or short but intense workouts. Even so, they do suggest spreading exercise out evenly across the week as most of us can all attest that our bodies feel better when we move and that daily movement isn’t just an important aspect to our physical health, but our mental and emotional health too.
As British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse Joanna Whitmore explained to the BBC, “This large study suggests that, when it comes to exercise, it doesn’t matter when you do it.” Whitmore noted that “the most important thing is that physical activity is undertaken in the first place.”
When it comes to moderate aerobic activities, recommendations include a brisk walk, dancing or riding a bike, while more vigorous exercises include running, swimming, skipping or circuit training.
The study might be celebrated by those who simply don’t have the capacity to fit exercise into their daily routines during a pressing work week, but we have to say that when it comes to fitness and health, consistency is key. With this in mind, we’re inclined to see the study as a silver lining for those weeks where we really are under the pump or are recovering from the flu, knowing that a few days off won’t be so detrimental to our health if we can pick things back up over the weekend. But ultimately, daily movement is a blessing: it’s something our bodies were designed to do and we don’t exactly need a study to prove that our hearts and minds are always better from having incorporated it into our lifestyle on a daily basis.