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The surprising truth about working out once a week


weekend warrior workout study
Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Keenan

There are some chaotic weeks where, between long working hours and a social life, you may just not get to spin class or yoga as much as you’d like. But if you’ve been stressed about only fitting in a sweat sesh one or two times a week, a new study reveals that there’s no need—because you can still reap the benefits of regular exercise with only a couple of vigorous workouts a week. Game changer.

Those who get just 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week —dubbed “weekend warriors”—reduce their risk of mortality compared to those who never work out at all, a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine finds. Great news for those whose to-do list has the word count of a non-fiction novel and who have trouble getting to the gym as much as they’d like.

“The present study suggests that less-frequent bouts of activity…offer considerable health benefits.”

To measure this, researchers looked at over 63,000 adults (of which 44 percent were female and the average age was 58) over a period of nine years. The “weekend warriors” were found to have a 30 percent less risk of mortality, a 40 percent less risk of heart disease, and 18 percent lower rates of cancer than those who were sedentary, Popular Science reports.

“The present study suggests that less-frequent bouts of activity, which might be more easily fit into a busy lifestyle, offer considerable health benefits, even in the obese and those with major risk factors,” writes lead author Gary O’Donovan. So, some sweat is better than none—so next time something else takes precedence over a workout sesh, take solace in the fact that you can make up for it another day (even though you may have to work out extra hard).

Get ready for next weekend: Here’s the class junkie’s guide to doing a full-body workout at the gym and a six-minute at-home barre workout with Tanya Becker of Physique 57