Weekend warriors experience same health benefits as regularly active persons

Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of noncommunicable diseases and mortality. The World Health Organization recommends that adults perform from 150 to 300 minutes per week (min/wk) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, 75 to 150 min/wk of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both intensities. However, it is unclear whether the same amount of physical activity spread over more days or concentrated into fewer days provides the same benefits or differs in terms of mortality risk. Given that performing leisure-time physical activity during the weekend may be a more convenient option for many people, the answer to this question is important for achieving the recommended levels of physical activity. On July 5, 2022 a new analysis appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine that brought good news for weekend warriors performing the recommended weekly amount of work-out but only in 1-2 sessions per week.

The authors used a large nationwide prospective cohort study including 350 978 adults who self-reported physical activity to the US National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2013. Participant data were linked to the National Death Index through December 31, 2015. Participants were grouped by self-reported activity level: physically inactive (<150 minutes per week [min/wk] of moderate to vigorous physical activity) or physically active (≥150 min/wk of moderate or ≥75 min/wk of vigorous activity). The active group was further classified by pattern: weekend warrior (1-2 sessions/wk) or regularly active (≥3 session/wk); and then, by frequency, duration/session, and intensity of activity.

The participants (mean [SD] age, 41.4 [15.2] years; 192 432 [50.8%] women) were followed during a median of 10.4 years (3.6 million person-years). There were 21 898 deaths documented, including 4130 from CVD and 6034 from cancer. Compared with physically inactive participants, hazard ratios (HR) for all-cause mortality were 0.92 (95% CI, 0.83-1.02) for weekend warrior and 0.85 (95% CI, 0.83-0.88) for regularly active participants; findings for cause-specific mortality were similar. Given the same amount of total moderate to vigorous physical activity, weekend warrior participants had similar all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates as regularly active participants. The HRs for weekend warrior vs regularly active participants were 1.08 (95% CI, 0.97-1.20) for all-cause mortality; 1.14 (95% CI, 0.85-1.53) for CVD mortality; and 1.07 (95% CI, 0.87-1.31) for cancer mortality.


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