The World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity activity. Their recommendations suggest that following these physical activity guidelines can have “substantial” health benefits.
But do weekend warrior or leisure time physical activity people also have health benefits?
Researchers analyzed data from the England and Scottish Health Survey. Respondents 40 years or older were included in the analysis. Data were collected from 1994 to 2012 and analyzed in 2016. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The self-reported physical activity patterns were defined as:
- inactive (reporting no moderate or vigorous intensity activities),
- insufficiently active (“leisure time”: reporting fewer than 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity and fewer than 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity activities)
- weekend warrior active (reporting more than 150 minutes per week in moderate intensity or more than 75 minutes per week in vigorous intensity activities during only 1 or 2 sessions)
- regularly active (reporting more than 150 minutes per week in moderate intensity or more than 75 minutes per week in vigorous intensity activities during 3 or more sessions).
Among the 63,591 adult respondents (46% male; 44% female; mean age, 59 years), there were a total of 8,802 deaths from all causes; of these, 2,780 deaths were from cardiovascular disease, and 2,526 deaths were from cancer.
The survey found that all-cause mortality risk (including cardiovascular disease and cancer) was approximately 30% lower in the three “active” groups (including weekend warrior) compared to “inactive” group.
The interesting part was there is no significant difference in regularly active participants and weekend warrior and insufficiently active respondents.
The authors concluded that weekend warrior active and the insufficiently active physical activity patterns characterized by 1 or 2 sessions per week may be sufficient to reduce all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality risks, regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines.
This is an interesting study that does seem to encourage regular physical activity, however readers should be aware that the “correlation” between physical activity/inactivity and death found in this study does not necessarily relate to “causation” between physical activity/inactivity and death. Correlation and causation can be two different relationships between parameters. Also, this is one study that must be considered in the context of many other studies.
This blog post article was written in collaboration with www.terrarosa.com.au.