If finding time to exercise during the week is a struggle, take heart – new research suggests that longer weekend workouts could offer similar benefits for your heart health.

The key takeaway from a recent study by Harvard University is that achieving 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week is the goal, whether you manage it over the course of several days or focus it on just one or two.

The guidelines we often hear recommend spreading your exercise across the week. However, a surprising discovery emerged from the study – people who concentrated their 2.5 hours of activity into fewer days experienced a 27% reduction in the risk of heart attack. Even those who exercised more frequently throughout the week saw a notable 35% decrease in this risk. This means that being a “weekend warrior” – getting your exercise over a shorter timeframe – can be just as effective for your heart health.

Researchers examined data from the UK Biobank, a resource containing information from over half a million participants aged 40 to 69. By equipping a subset of participants with wrist-mounted accelerometers, the scientists were able to continuously monitor their physical activity.

The study’s message is clear: whether you’re someone who prefers to spread out exercise or condense it into the weekend, the important thing is reaching the 150-minute target of moderate to vigorous activity each week. Nevertheless, experts emphasise that taking precautions against injuries is crucial, particularly for those opting for intensive weekend workouts. Gradually building up exercise and incorporating appropriate warm-up and cool-down routines can help prevent common exercise-related injuries.

So, whether it’s a brisk walk, a swim, or a cycle, find the activity that suits you best and aim for a total of 150 minutes each week. Remember, it’s about finding what fits into your routine while ensuring you’re taking care of your heart’s health.

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