Good News for Weekend Warriors
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Reductions in Mortality Risk by Activity Group as Compared with Inactive Adults

  All-cause CVD Cancer
Total deaths 8,802 2,780 2,526
Insufficiently active 34% reduced risk 40% reduced risk 17% reduced risk
Weekend warriors 30% reduced risk 40% reduced risk 18% reduced risk
Regularly active 35% reduced risk 41% reduced risk 21% reduced risk

The regularly active—those spreading their exercise across three or more sessions per week at or above World Health Organization/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended levels—enjoyed the greatest reductions in risk across the board, but in most cases barely so.

The WHO and HHS recommendations suggest that substantial health benefits accrue by meeting the recommended minimum level of physical activity and that additional benefit can be gained by performing more than the minimum level. These guidelines also advise that physical activity be spread throughout the week.

Yet the data suggest substantially similar benefits from compressing these recommended levels of activity into one or two days a week. Given the realities of time constraints for many people, and when compared to the significantly increased risk of performing no exercise at all, there is hope for people who find it difficult or impossible to adhere to prevailing physical activity guidelines.

It is important to note, however, that the study only looked at three specific health outcomes. Not only was further mortality benefit observed with more frequent activity, but there are other health outcomes to consider, for example, diabetes, which may be dramatically better regulated or even defeated by committing to a regular, daily routine rather than a sporadic or compressed one.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 9, 2017,

JAMA Intern Med. Invited Commentary, Published online January 9, 2017,

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