Do "Weekend Warriors" Get a Health Benefit from Activity?

The Weekend is upon us! For some, the weekend is an opportunity to catch up on chores, watch some college football, and relax from a busy week that included regular exercise and activity. However, for many, these two days are packed with guilt, fatigue, and eventually sore muscles, from trying to overcome a week of desk-bound work and take-out food with a flurry of planned exercise or otherwise unaccustomed activity.

We’re all familiar with the Weekend Warrior (or at least the caricature): sore and limping by Tuesday, that is, if they didn’t sustain an injury. These folks often wear a badge of honor, mostly awarded due to the best of intentions. But are there actual benefits to these bouts given what we know about the recommended activity levels adults should pursue?

Public health agencies have long recommended adults strive for 75 vigorous-intensity minutes, 150 moderate-intensity minutes, or a combination per week of aerobic activity for “substantial” health benefit. In fact, some studies have examined the effect of 10 times the recommendation! An unequivocal dose-response relationship between minutes of activity and health benefits has been demonstrated.

A recent study examined the risk for all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer mortality associated with the weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns and the findings were encouraging. Respondents (n=63,591) from surveillance studies conducted in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2012 and analyzed in 2016 were placed into one of four groups: inactive; insufficiently active w/1-2 sessions/week; weekend warrior (getting the recommended 75/150/or combination thresholds in 1-2 weekend sessions); and regularly active participants getting the recommended levels of activity.

More and more regular activity elicits the greatest health benefits with a linear relationship down to inactivity. Perhaps most encouraging: “Weekend warrior and other leisure time physical activity patterns characterized by 1 to 2 sessions per week may be sufficient to reduce all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality risks regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines.”

Bottom line: The weekend is here. Shoot for 75, 150 or some combination of minutes of physical activity, but don’t kill yourself; and remember: Doing something is always better than doing nothing!

Stay Safe, Stay Strong