Weekend warriors put up a fight against death

Cramming all your exercise into one or two bouts per week still reaps health benefits

man sweating while working out

ON THE MOVE  For people 40 an older, getting some exercise is linked to a reduced risk of early death compared with getting no exercise at all.

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Any exercise — even the weekend warrior approach, cramming it all into Saturday and Sunday — is better than none. Compared with inactive adults, those who got the recommended amount of weekly exercise, or even substantially less, had about a one-third lower risk of death during the study period, researchers report online January 9 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Gary O’Donovan at the University of Leicester in England and colleagues analyzed data from 63,591 people ages 40 and older, surveyed between 1994 and 2012 as part of the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey. Adults should be getting 150 minutes of moderate activity (such as walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as jogging) spread out across the week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Measured against people who did absolutely nothing, active people who worked up a sweat three or more times per week, weekend warriors and even those who moved less (60 minutes per week on average) all reduced their risk of dying early. The observational study can’t say that exercise caused the reduced risk, just that there’s an association.

Bethany was previously the staff writer at Science News for Students. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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