If you don’t have time to exercise during the week, longer workouts on the weekend can be good for your heart.
Adults should get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week Recommend guidelines, with the usual advice to spread during the week. Harvard researchers found that people who crammed their 2.5 hours of activity into one or two days reduced their risk of heart attack by 27 percent, while those who exercised more days of the week had a 35 percent reduction. “Weekend warriors” had a 38% reduction in the risk of heart attack, compared to 36% in regular exercisers, the new study was published in JAMA on Tuesday.
“The idea that you can cram it all into one weekend or two days a week was a little surprising,” said the study’s co-author Dr. Patrick EleanorDirector of Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The bottom line, says Eleanor, is that “getting 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity a week is the goal, no matter how you get there.”
Researchers to take a deeper look at how exercise time makes a difference UK BiobankA widely used database of 502,629 participants aged 40 to 69 registered between 2006 and 2010. For the new study, a subset of the group agreed to wear a wrist-mounted accelerometer that measures physical activity 24 hours a day.
Eleanor and colleagues focused on 89,573 participants who wore accelerometers for a week, most of whom were followed for 6.3 years. The researchers classified participants as weekend warriors, regular exercisers, or inactive.
A major limitation of the study is that the activity data was collected over a one-week period, says Eleanor, so we don’t know if the participants kept up the same level of exercise during the follow-up period.
Still, the main message is that people should get 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week, “however they can get it,” says Dr. John McPherson, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
McPherson, who was not involved in the new study, said, “It could be a couple of days or it could be 25 to 30 minutes every day.” “The most important thing is to wait 150 minutes a week.”
How to avoid exercise
One argument against cramming exercise into two days is that some studies on weekend fighters show a higher risk of injury. But experts say people who take care to prepare for exercise and warm up and cool down properly can avoid such injuries.
If you want to cram all your exercise into two days, you really need to build it up, says Keith Diaz, an exercise physiologist and professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“The biggest concern is the harms of overuse,” said Diaz, who was not involved in the new study. “You can’t go from zero to 60 in two days. There are many weekend fighters who have no injuries but their bodies have adapted to it.
The type of activity you choose is also important, Diaz said. While you may want to choose something you enjoy doing, low-impact activities like swimming and biking are better choices because they’re less likely to damage joints, he said.
Because an adult’s body begins to degenerate after three days of inactivity, restricting weekend workouts isn’t the way to maximize physical activity, Diaz said.
“You’re constantly fighting the body’s tendency to go back to using it,” he explains.
Glen Gesser, professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, said the new study offers good news.
“At least from moderate to vigorous activity, it didn’t matter how much people cut down on exercise during the week,” Gesser said.
For those who are concerned that exercising for just a day or two might increase the risk of injury, previous research has shown that it mostly comes from sports, said Gesser, who was not involved in the new study.
“Calling the people in the study weekend warriors is somewhat misleading because most of them are not doing ‘warrior’ activities,” Gesser said. “Most of them are doing normal cardiovascular activities like walking, cycling and so on. People who participate in contact sports are more likely to get injured.
Dr. Gregory Katz, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Heart and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, says to avoid injuries from long workouts, pay attention to what your body is telling you.
“Don’t ignore that nagging pain,” says Katz, who was not involved in the new study. “Does this sound like the kind of strain you should be putting on your body or something that could be harmful?”
This article was originally published by NBCNews.com