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You can save your workouts for the weekend — but here’s what it will take to see the same benefits



At ease, weekend warriors.

Hitting the gym just once or twice a week might be enough to reach fitness goals, according to new research.

A new study published in the research journal Obesity found that busy folks who often cram their activity into their free time on the weekends can lose just as much weight as those who exercise regularly.

The key is they still need to hit their recommended exercise goal, researchers found.

The World Health Organization suggests 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week, but many find the hustle of modern life makes it tough to factor in time to work out daily.

Lihua Zhang, a health-care scientist at Peking Union Medical College and one of the study’s authors, said the findings are good news for office workers and those who sit for prolonged periods all day.

“Those people are struggling to catch up in their exercise plan in daily life to offset the hazard of a sedentary lifestyle but have less free time to get to the gym,” Zhang said. “Our study could offer them an alternative choice to keep fit.”

The authors noted the novel study is the first to analyze how physical activity patterns affect “objectively measured” fat tissue mass and found that workout frequency really doesn’t matter.

“The weekend warrior pattern is worth promoting in individuals who cannot meet the recommended frequency in current guidelines,” Zhang added.

Good activities for weekend warriors, according to Zhang, are climbing, hiking, cycling or running.

Researchers used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data detailing the exercise habits of more than 9,600 participants, ranging in age from 20 to 59 years old, from 2011 to 2018. Both those who exercised regularly and people who limited activity to weekends were shown to have less abdominal and whole-body fat, a slimmer waist circumference and a healthier body mass index.

Dr. Beverly Tchang, an obesity specialist an assistant professor of clinical medicine at New York’s Weill Cornell Medicine, who did not participate in the study, said that the data showed weekend warriors’ workouts were often of higher intensity and lasted longer — and thus led to even lower abdominal fat.

But the research should inspire busy people to get moving, no matter the cadence, she said.

“This study reaffirms the old adage about physical activity and health: Any activity is better than no activity,” Tchang said. “The main takeaway, though, is that people should be active in any manner that suits their lifestyle.”

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