Doing just one or two sessions of physical activity a week has been found to offer significant benefits to health.
In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers suggest that less frequent bouts of activity, which busy individuals may find easier to fit into their schedules, bring dramatic enough health benefits, even in those who are obese or have other medical risk factors.
Specifically, "weekend warriors" registered a drop in deaths related to cancer and cardiovascular disease, regardless if exercise guidelines were met or not.
The study defined weekend warriors as those doing all of their exercises on just one or two days out of an entire week.
According to the researchers, 45 percent of weekend warriors did one session of physical activity while 55 percent took part in physical activity twice during the weekend. As for their choice of physical activity, 94 percent of weekend warriors engaged in sports while 31 percent did some brisk walking. On average, weekend warriors accumulated 300 minutes each week of moderate or vigorous physical activity.
Lower Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Compared to people who did no physical activity at all, weekend warriors had 30 percent lower all-cause mortality risk. In terms of cancer death risk, weekend warriors recorded 18 percent lower risk while those regularly active had 21 percent lower risk. As for cardiovascular disease, weekend warriors and those regularly active had 41 percent lower risk of dying from the condition.
In another study, researchers also presented a simple task that could help lower cancer and cardiovascular disease risk: eat a handful of nuts a day. According to research published in the journal BMC Medicine, eating 20 grams of nuts — like peanuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, and pecan nuts — a day cuts back cancer risk by 15 percent and coronary heart diseases by 30 percent. Doing so also reduces premature death risk by 22 percent, diabetes by 40 percent, and respiratory disease death by 50 percent.
Recommended Physical Activity For Adults
"It is very encouraging news that being physically active on just one or two occasions per week is associated with lower risk of death, even among people who do some activity but don't quite meet recommended exercise levels," said Emmanuel Stamatakis, study senior author.
However, Stamatakis wants to remind people that it is still advisable for all to strive to meet or even exceed recommendations for physical activity.
According to the World Health Organization, adults should do at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or 150 minutes of moderately intense activity every week. An equivalent combination will also work to not just lower risks of death but also improve an individual's overall level of health.
There are different ways by which these minutes could be accumulated. For instance, aiming for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity will mean shorter but more frequent bursts of 10-minute activity or 30 minutes of continuous physical activity five times a week.
The WHO's recommendations apply to all adults between the ages of 18 and 64 of sound health. Those pregnant, have just given birth, or have had cardiac events are advised to talk to their doctors first before striving to meet these recommendations.