Total amount of exercise per week more important than frequency, research finds

Staying healthy and fit may not correspond to how many days a week you hit the gym, a new study reveals.

Researchers from Queen's University found that the total amount of minutes adults exercised per week was a more important factor than how often the exercise was performed – good news for those who may find it hard to squeeze in activity during a busy work week.

Clock in 150 minutes

As long as adults accumulated 150 minutes of exercise during a few days of the week, their risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke remained the same as participants who were active daily.

Dr. Ian Janssen and his colleague studied 2,324 adults by measuring their activity through accelerometers – tiny electrical devices that record a person's level of movement every minute. The adults were then divided into two groups: those who were active about five to seven days a week and those who were active one to four days a week.

Janssen explained the results of the study:

The findings indicate that it does not matter how adults choose to accumulate their 150 weekly minutes of physical activity. For instance, someone who did not perform any physical activity on Monday to Friday but was active for 150 minutes over the weekend would obtain the same health benefits from their activity as someone who accumulated 150 minutes of activity over the week by doing 20-25 minutes of activity on a daily basis.

The important takeaway, he concluded, is that adults should get at least 150 minutes of activity a week in whatever way works for their schedules.

The study was published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Source: NRC Research Press

Photo by John Nyboer

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