Can training on the weekend alone achieve similar benefits to a full week of exercise?

A case for “cramming”

Most evidence suggests that exercising on a regular basis on five or more days a week is optimal for improving health. However, a recent study suggests that if you can cram all of your recommended exercise into a weekend then this may be enough to produce significant health benefits.

Researchers – led by Gary O’Donovan, Ph.D., of Loughborough University in London – analysed several existing household surveillance studies and mortality records.

The pooled analysis included 63,591 participants, aged 40 and older, from the Health Survey for England and Scottish. In the period that followed, there were a total of 8,802 deaths, of which 2,780 were from CVD and 2,526 from cancer.

The NHS guidelines for Physical Activity recommends that adults should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week

Exercise benefits by Physio Clinic Naas

Interestingly, researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Sydney analysed data exercise duration and health over an 18-year period. The main finding was that no matter how often people exercised in a week or for how long, the health benefits were similar once the person met the NHS guidelines for exercise in a week.


So for those of you who have a very busy lifestyle and find it difficult to fit in exercise during the week due to work and family commitments then this offers some positive news.

Performing exercise on your days off, even if you do not meet the guidelines, will lower the risk of dying from cancer and heart disease

“Weekend warriors”, who did all their exercise on one or two days of the week, were found to lower their risk of dying from CVD by 41% and cancer by 18%, compared with the inactive.

Those who exercised regularly on three or more days per week reduced their risks of cardiovascular disease by 41% and cancer by 21%.