To Your Health

PROS and CONS of weekend warriors

For health protection, official guidelines recommend we get 150 minutes of moderate–intensity (or 75 minutes of vigorous–intensity) physical activity each week. But what does this mean for weekend warriors who squeeze their exercise into 1 or 2 days a week?

Scientists recently reported in JAMA Internal Medicine about middle–aged men and women who reported their exercise habits for a month and were studied for mortality rates 15 years later. Those who exercised in at least three sessions had only slightly lower death rates than the weekend warriors. Note: This study showed an association, not a direct cause, between death rates and exercise habits.

Should you cram all your exercise into 1 or 2 days? Consider the pros and cons:

PROS:

If you have limited time or you prefer concentrated exercise bouts, such as distance running, you still benefit. In fact, the benefits may be comparable whether you break your activity into 5, 30–minute or 2 to 3 high–intensity sessions.

CONS:

Sports–related injuries are more common among weekend warriors. You may lose some of your cardiovascular endurance, which usually drops after a 4– or 5–day break,  between workouts. More frequent exercise is regarded as better for preventing type 2 diabetes and improving other health factors.

Future research may help confirm the best way to get weekly exercise. A large body of research shows that exercise is most beneficial when done at least three days a week, per government guidelines.

Sleep for well–being

The 2018 Sleep Foundation survey of sleep habits suggests that U.S. adults who get good, consistent sleep are also good at getting things done. But for the majority of those people surveyed, sleep is not a priority over work, social activities, and other aspects of living.

  • The Foundation warns that adults and children are consistently overscheduling their lives and neglecting their sleep needs—a habit that can jeopardize good health and may shorten lifespan. Clocking fewer than 6 to 7 hours of shut–eye night after night can have detrimental effects, both short–and long–term.
  • Sleep–health Rx: At least 7 hours of restful sleep per night can help protect your heart and immunity; control blood sugar, weight gain, stress and depression; and reduce risk for colds and flu. With the potential for increasing disease prevention and longevity, adequate sleep will also leave you feeling mentally fit and more energetic.
  • To sleep well, try exercise. Even a little regular exercise helps, according to the 2013 NSF survey: 76 percent to 83 percent of regular exercisers (at vigorous, moderate or light exertion) said their sleep quality was very good or fairly good—while 60 percent of non–exercisers reported they rarely or never have a good night’s sleep.
  • Stay aware of your sleep robbers, such as worry, alcohol, physical problems, and lesser priorities. Make slumber your number one goal at the end of each day.
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