“Weekend warriors” who perform all of their exercise in one or two sessions per week may be sufficiently reducing all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality risks according to findings published Jan. 9 in JAMA: Internal Medicine.
The World Health Organization recommends that people aged 18 to 64 years should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, but the frequency of activity is not specified. Read More >>>
Gary O’Donovan, PhD, et al. collected data from 1994 to 2008 from household-based surveillance studies, which included respondents to the Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey. The 63,591 respondents included in this analysis were 40 years or older. Of these, 39,947 (62.8 percent) were classified as inactive at baseline; 14,224 (22.4 percent) as insufficiently active; 2,341 (3.7 percent) as weekend warriors; and 7,079 (11.1 percent) as regularly active. The inactive participants were generally older, more likely to smoke, to be in unskilled occupations and to report a long-standing illness. Weekend warriors were more likely to be men. Mean body mass index was similar in each group.
Of the weekend warriors, 1,053 (45.0 percent) reported taking part in one session and 1,288 (55.0 percent) reported taking part in two sessions of exercise per week. 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 in the regularly active participants. The proportion of vigorous-intensity physical activity, however, was higher in weekend warriors than the regularly active participants.
There were 8,802 deaths from all causes during the study period, with 2,780 deaths from cardiovascular disease. Compared with the inactive participants, the fully adjusted hazard ratio for cardiovascular disease mortality was 0.63 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.55-0.72) in the insufficiently active participants, 0.60 (95 percent CI, 0.45-0.82) in the weekend warrior participants, and 0.59 (95 percent CI, 0.48-0.73) in the regularly active participants. The fully adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were similar between men and women.
[T]hese findings are good news for people with busy schedules, suggesting that less frequent sessions of physical activity offer considerable health benefits.
The authors explain that these findings are good news for people with busy schedules, suggesting that less frequent sessions of physical activity offer considerable health benefits. “We found that the insufficiently active, weekend warrior, and regularly active patterns were associated with reduced risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality,” the authors write. “One of the most striking findings in the present study was that one or two sessions per week of moderate or vigorous-intensity leisure time physical activity was sufficient to reduce all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality risks regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines.”
“The findings will be of great interest to those millions of people who find no time in their busy schedule for the three to five days a week of exercise regimen,” said Melvyn Rubenfire, MD, FACC, in an ACC.org Journal Scan. “While baseline measures were obtained, this type of observational study cannot discern to what degree compliance with other lifestyle measures over the eight years of follow-up reduced the risk of heart disease and cancer in persons willing to commit time to exercise.”
O’Donovan G, Lee I, Hamer M, et al. JAMA Intern Med 2017;Jan 9:[Epub ahead of print].
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