hero image

A recent study reveals that being a “weekend warrior,” engaging in intense exercise over one or two weekend sessions, can improve cardiovascular health as effectively as daily workouts. Interestingly, the routine may reduce the risk of heart disease, which is currently the leading cause of death worldwide.

Working out during weekends has same effect as daily workout

Individuals who concentrate their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during weekends gain similar benefits to those who spread their physical activity across the entire week.

Acting Cardiology chief and co-director of the Corrigan Minehan Heart Centre at MGH Patrick Ellinor said that measures to enhance physical activity even within a single day or two per week can improve cardiovascular health.

Regular physical activity can safeguard against stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most prevalent type of irregular heartbeat. Health guidelines typically suggest adults aged 18 to 64 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise weekly. Achieving these goals can be as simple as a 30-minute brisk walk five days per week or a 75-minute jog per week.

The recent report analyzed data from the UK Biobank, whereby 89,573 participants wore accelerometer wrist devices for over six years. The study revealed that compared to sedentary individuals, those engaging in less frequent bouts of physical activity experienced significant reductions in AFib, heart attacks, heart failure and stroke cases. These findings could be helpful for individuals with busy schedules, as they can still enjoy health benefits from intermittent exercise.

Moderate to vigorous physical activity beneficial to the heart

The UK’s National Health Service advises distributing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MPVA) over four to five days per week. Uncertainty remains about the benefits of weekend warriors due to limitations in previous studies, like self-reported data and small sample sizes.

Researchers established that the warrior pattern was common and applied to almost 50% of active individuals.  Interestingly, different activity patterns seemed to have the same correlations with low risk of stroke, heart attack, AFib, and heart failure.