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Weekend warriors

By Emily Baum and Evan Bruggeman, Student Pharmacists with Karen Kier, Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

Exercise is a critical piece to overall health. The Heart Foundation provides a list of the top 10 reasons why someone does not exercise.  The top three are: I am too tired, I can’t afford a gym and I don’t have time.  

So, could concentrated time exercising be a potential solution, giving credence to the notion of a weekend warrior?

A weekend warrior is defined as someone who is passionate about an activity or hobby on weekends due to obligations during the week. Two to four percent of the U.S. population report being weekend warriors. This weekend exercise can be of a strenuous nature including running, weight lifting, rock climbing and biking.  The Men’s Journal has even provided a routine for what they called the 21-Day Shred. The workout on the weekend included a 15-minute light job followed by 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 200 squats–as fast as you can–and a 15-minute light jog finish.  Whew!

Is there a benefit in being a weekend warrior?

The CDC recommends that individuals complete a minimum of 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity activity or a minimum of 75 minutes/week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Use the “talk test” to determine if you are doing moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity activity–-can you talk during the exercise or only say a few words between breaths? 

Achieving these weekly requirements can lead to benefits such as decreased risk of heart disease, as well as reduction in cancer-related illness. It is not commonly specified if those benefits come from spreading exercise throughout the week or completing it in a couple days. 

What if you could choose to be active throughout the week or knock out your exercise minutes in fewer days and still get the same benefits? 

In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, the benefits associated with each style of activity were compared. Patients were divided into two groups: active and inactive. Patients classified as active were further divided into groups by the number of days per week they spent exercising. Regularly active patients were those who spent three or more days a week exercising and weekend warriors were those who spent two or fewer days. Essentially, the overall number of minutes spent exercising was the same for both regularly active patients and weekend warriors. 

The study found that whether you like to spread your exercise throughout the week or prefer to fit it in on the weekend, you still gain the same benefits of reduced heart disease and a lower risk of cancer-related illnesses. So, if you are someone who is very busy during the week with a limited number of days to get up and exercise, do not let that stop you from developing a healthier lifestyle. 

The study did not evaluate or compare the rate of injuries between the two active groups.  Be cautious if you are starting up an intense workout routine on the weekends. You should discuss your plans with a healthcare professional or an exercise expert. A different study published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery reported a higher incidence of trauma-related injuries for weekend warriors than those who chose to exercise during the week.  The injuries in this study were related to individuals not wearing proper protective equipment such as helmets, gloves and boots.   

If you do not want to be a weekend warrior, walking on a daily basis is a very good option as well. 

A study focused on the long-term health benefits of walking among U.S. young adults. Participants ranging from 18 to 30 years old at study initiation and from four major cities throughout the United States were monitored over the course of 30 years to observe the impact of steps per day on death rates. Findings from the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers identified a decreasing risk of death with an increasing daily step count in the participants.  Participants taking at least 7,000 steps per day had a 50 to 70% decrease in death compared to those taking fewer than 7,000 steps per day.

Regular physical activity, including walking, is one of the most important activities that people can do to improve or maintain good health. Being physically active provides substantial health benefits for many conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, numerous types of cancers, mental health and quality of life. The CDC currently recommends that adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity each week. For example, brisk walking is a form of moderate-intensity physical activity that can be done in small increments each day to improve and maintain physical health and well-being.

Be a weekend warrior or walk daily to be a healthier you.  Contact a healthcare professional to talk about options to improve your exercise routine. 

ONU HealthWise is offering COVID-19 including boosters Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Call the pharmacy for an appointment for other time slots. The ONU HealthWise pharmacy offers Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

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Friday, September 23, 2022