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For many, the working week leaves little time for exercise – it’s something you fit in as a “weekend warrior” on the courts, in the water, on the pavement, or in the gym.
Many physical activity guidelines recommend people space out their exercise, but is there evidence that squeezing your fitness into one or two days is any worse than a less-crammed schedule?
A study used data from the UK Biobank – a prospective cohort of more than 500,000 people who have various parts of their health information and records captured for medical research.
About a fifth of these people wore activity trackers which collected data about their movements and which researchers were able to translate into various forms of physical activity such as running, walking, cycling and so on. Then researchers examined whether there were links between physical activity and outcomes like atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, heart failure and stroke.
Considering the 90,000 people who had adequate data recorded, researchers found that people fell into three groups – the weekend warriors who were very active on one or two days (though not always the weekend), the active group who were active over several days, and a group who were mostly inactive.
Comparing the weekend warriors with the broadly active group, the researchers found there was no difference in their risk of major heart issues over time – the incidence of heart failure, heart attack and stroke were the same in both groups.
The weekend warrior pattern was also the most common way people were active (i.e., most active people were highly active on just one or two days).
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