FYI: Weekend warriors can see just as many weight loss benefits as regular exercisers

Many people find it difficult to fit daily exercise into their already busy schedules. But when it comes to weight loss, it may not make a difference whether you exercise daily or only on the weekends, a new study suggests.

The new research, published in February in the journal obesityfound that weekend warriors who exercise one or two days a week can lose similar amounts of weight as those who exercise more regularly.

The study authors analyzed the survey data and found that those who exercised at least 150 minutes per week were more likely to have lower waist circumferences, body mass indices (BMI) and mass measurements fat than those who were inactive.

This was true regardless of how active people divided their exercise during the week.

Current guidelines state that American adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, in addition to two days of muscle-strengthening exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that people stop this activity for five days to make it easier to do.

However, the fact that people can see equivalent weight loss benefits with a weekend warrior exercise pattern is promising, especially for people with busy schedules or sedentary jobs, said the author of the study Lihua Zhang, a scientist affiliated with Fuwai Hospital, National Cardiovascular Center. Diseases, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in Beijing.

These people are struggling to catch up on their exercise plan in daily life to offset the risk of a sedentary lifestyle, but have less free time to go to the gym, Zhang said in a statement from press Our study could offer them an alternative option to stay fit.

Here’s what the experts had to say about how being a weekend warrior affects your health and the best ways to incorporate physical activity into your weekly routine.

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This study is the first of its kind to examine the link between physical activity frequency and objectively measured fat tissue mass.

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2011 and 2018. More than 9,600 participants, all between the ages of 20 and 59, were included.

These participants reported the frequency and duration of their physical activity and leisure time using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire. The study authors also had access to data from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) or body composition scans. The results showed that 772 participants reported a weekend warrior pattern and about 3,270 reported a regularly active pattern.

Both the weekend warrior and regular exerciser groups tended to have less abdominal fat and whole body fat mass, as well as lower waist circumference and BMI, compared to the 5,580 inactive participants.

Weekend warriors and regular athletes were also more likely to be younger, more educated, non-Hispanic white, and less likely to be unemployed or have hypertension or diabetes.

Being a weekend warrior isn’t just helpful in weight management, but this latest study is in line with previous research suggesting that regular or weekend exercise is good for your overall health. said Tracie Massey, certified personal trainer and manager of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. Health.

Research published in 2022 found that both weekend warriors and regular exercisers had a lower risk of mortality than people who were inactive. An August 2023 study found the same was true for heart health benefits.

While it’s not entirely clear why this is the case, the study authors noted that more research is needed to find out how the weekend warrior and regular exercise patterns affect the body.

However, finding any exercise program that works for you is a great way to reach activity goals and stick to them, said Tim Church, MD, MPH, PhD, chief medical officer of Wondr Health.

Incorporating physical activity into your weekly schedule when it’s most convenient for you is the best way to make it a habit, she said. Health.

Church said the weekend warrior concept is a positive for people who may not meet the weekly recommendations. It’s a reminder that exercise isn’t all or nothing, Massey added.

The once-a-week visit can make a difference in overall physical and mental health, he said. It also helps create a habit, so before you know it, one visit turns into two, two into three, and so on.

Whether it’s longer weekend gym sessions or shorter, more frequent workouts, there are a few things people can do to ensure they meet the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.

First, find an activity—any activity you enjoy doing, experts said.

If you don’t enjoy exercise, you won’t stick with it, Church said. Find something you like and make it your exercise.

It can also be easier to stick with a workout routine if it’s consistently on your calendar. Prioritize yourself, schedule your physical activity time just like you would a doctor’s appointment or lunch with a friend, Massey recommended.

And if you’re just starting to add more movement to your weekly routine, keep it simple. Activities like walking or lifting weights can be good options at first, Church said.

If there’s still an exercise you can’t do, make a step-by-step plan for how you’ll get there, she said. It shouldn’t be too complicated.

And while the study results indicate that meeting weekly exercise recommendations may be linked to a healthy weight, exercise is only one piece of the weight loss puzzle, experts say. In fact, nutrition plays an important role in determining abdominal fat, waist circumference and BMI, Massey said.

Exercise can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, but it’s not as effective for weight loss, Church added. A balanced and healthy diet is what will lead to weight loss if that is the goal.

If someone has difficulty maintaining a nutritious diet or regular physical activity, they may want to seek help from a fitness professional or registered dietitian nutritionist, Massey recommended.

“Exercise is more about improving your quality of life and your health,” Church said. That’s why finding out what works for you is best.

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