Weekend Warrior? You Can Still Lose Weight!

A recent study has revealed that exercising once or twice a week can yield similar benefits in terms of weight loss compared to more frequent exercise, provided certain minimums for duration and intensity are met.

According to guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and many governments, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity.

However, meeting these recommendations can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules. The study, published in the journal Obesity, found that individuals termed “weekend warriors”—those who concentrate their exercise into Saturday and/or Sunday—can achieve comparable weight loss to daily exercisers if they adhere to WHO guidelines.

This finding is particularly relevant for individuals with sedentary jobs, such as taxi and bus drivers or office workers, who struggle to incorporate regular exercise into their daily routines.

Lihua Zhang, the corresponding author of the study and a healthcare scientist at Fuwai Hospital and professor at Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China, stated, “The weekend warrior pattern is worth promoting in individuals who cannot meet the recommended frequency in current guidelines. These people are struggling to catch up in their exercise plans in daily life to offset the hazard of a sedentary lifestyle but have less free time to get to the gym. Our study could offer them an alternative choice to keep fit.”

The research involved over 9,600 participants aged 20 to 59 who participated in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 to 2018. The team assessed participants’ abdominal and overall body fat using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and other measurements such as BMI.

Comparing data from inactive individuals, weekend warriors, and regularly active participants, the study found that both weekend warriors and regularly active individuals had lower abdominal and body fat, smaller waist circumferences, and lower BMIs.

Dr. Beverly Tchang, Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, emphasized, “The main takeaway is that people should be active in any manner that suits their lifestyle. All types of exercise are welcome, whether that be running, hiking, cycling, climbing, or other options.”

Another study confirms these findings (and there are many more) so get out there and start with your weekend! It’s worth it!