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Exercise ‘weekend warriors’ lower their risks of death

Research by Loughborough University shows exercise ‘weekend warriors’ who fit the recommended amount of weekly physical activity into one or two sessions have lower risks of death.

The research, published today by JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that compared with inactive adults, weekend warriors who performed the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity in one or two sessions per week had lower risks for death from all causes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.

Although it may be easier to fit less frequent bouts of activity into a busy lifestyle, little has been known about the weekend warrior physical activity pattern.

Dr Gary O’Donovan of Loughborough University’s School of Sport Exercise and Health Sciences and the National centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands, carried out the research in collaboration with Harvard University and the University of Sydney.

The research team conducted a pooled analysis of 63,591 adults who responded to English and Scottish household-based surveys. Data were collected from 1994 to 2012. The authors looked at associations between the weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns and the risk for death from all causes, CVD and cancer.

Among 63,591 adults (average age almost 59), there were 8,802 deaths from all causes, 2,780 deaths from CVD and 2,526 from cancer.

The risk of death from all causes was about 30 per cent lower among weekend warrior adults compared with inactive adults, while the risk of CVD death for weekend warriors was 40 percent lower and the risk of cancer death was 18 percent lower.

Risk reductions were similar among weekend warriors and insufficiently active adults who performed less than the recommended amount of weekly physical activity. Frequency and duration appeared not to matter among those who met physical activity guidelines. Some evidence suggests the risks for death were lowest among regularly active adults, according to the results.

Limitations of the study include that the results may not be generalizable because more than 90 percent of the participants were white. Also, physical activity was self-reported. The study also cannot establish causality.

“The weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns characterized by one or two sessions per week of moderate or vigorous-intensity physical activity may be sufficient to reduce risks for all-cause, CVD and cancer mortality regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines,” Dr O’Donovan concludes.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/06

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.
Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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