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Why Exercising on the Weekend May Be Just as Good as Daily Workouts

August 07, 2023

Finding time to exercise during the work week can feel like another full-time job.

But new research from Harvard University offers good news for weekend warriors who cram exercise on their days off.

Here’s what the study had to say and what it means for your exercise routine.

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It’s OK to save your exercising for the weekend.

According to the study, 150 minutes of exercise in longer weekend sessions protected against heart attack and failure almost as much as shorter, more frequent workouts.

“This is great news for people struggling to fit exercise in daily due to life’s other demands. The bottom line, is we all need to move more in general. The timing, as we’re now seeing, isn’t as important as moving,” says Brad Biskup, PA, of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute.

> Related: Top 3 Physical Activity Goals for Weight Loss

Intensity isn’t as important as it seems.

One surprising finding was the benefit of pushing yourself at 51 to 75% for up to one hour.

“Data showed that longer, moderate intensity workouts reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke more than shorter, high-intensity workouts,” he says.

In the end, 150 minutes of exercise is the goal and how you break up sessions and at what intensity level is less important.

The difference between moderate and intense workouts is different for everyone.

If you’re not sure whether your exercise is moderate or intense, here’s what Biskup has to say.

“The difference between moderate to vigorous is related to your fitness level and not the type of exercise you do,” Biskup explains. “Some people will be short of breath walking on a flat surface, while others run and don’t get out of breath. The key to monitoring your intensity is your respiratory rate not heart rate.”

Still not sure? Try using the talk test while exercising:

  • Low activity level (less than 50% intensity): You can say two short sentences.
  • Moderate activity level (the 51-75% intensity that was shown to be most beneficial): You can say a short sentence without taking a breath.
  • Vigorous activity level: You can’t say the whole sentence without a breath, you are depleting your oxygen supply and will start using glucose as an energy source.

“This is great if you want to increase strength and power, but not if you are trying to decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer,” Biskup notes.

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But don’t just cram your workouts into the weekend – ease into it.

While weekend exercising is ideal for busy people, be sure to ease in to avoid taxing your body too much.

“Our body is like a car. It lasts the longest and runs the best with moderate intensity driving, no steep hills or stopping/starting abruptly,” Biskup says.

One reason to take it slow- the higher the intensity of an activity, the greater risk of injury.

“Any exercise is beneficial. Exercise can treat and prevent more than 40 diseases,” he says.