Is it better to exercise for 2h30 on the weekend or 5 sessions of 30 min during the week?

To find out whether the number of weekly physical activity sessions affects health, researchers followed 350,000 Americans for 10 years. The results of their research will satisfy Sunday sports enthusiasts.

Does achieving the level of weekly physical activity recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1 or 2 intense weekend sessions or in several sessions spread over the week affect mortality? That is the question of a team of international researchers.

On the same topic

To answer this, scientists followed more than 350,000 adults in the United States for 10 years. The latter was divided into 3 groups: a group called “the weekend warriors” who performed the recommended level of physical activity for only one or two days, a group of “regular athletes” who measured the level of physical activity in several weekly sessions and a group of sedentary people. who practice little or no sport.

The results will put a smile on the faces of Sunday sports enthusiasts: The researchers found no significant difference in death rates (from all causes) between “weekend warriors” and regular practitioners. In other words, no matter how many exercise sessions per week, the most important thing is to meet the WHO-recommended weekly exercise of 150 minutes. On the other hand, the risk of death, particularly from cardiovascular disease or cancer, was higher in sedentary people.

What are the benefits of physical activity?

Physical activity stimulates the telomeres (the ends of the chromosomes that protect them and whose wear and tear is linked to aging). It activates blood circulation and thus contributes to bringing oxygen to the red blood cells, which in turn will supply our cells with oxygen. It’s a vicious circle: through physical activity, our oxygen and energy needs increase, the heart rate and respiratory system adapt to this need, oxygen circulates better, all cells benefit, including muscles, which then become more efficient.

Among the muscles that benefit from physical activity, we find, first of all, the heart. “Over the course of the activities, it builds muscle, can push a greater amount of blood into the arteries with less effort,” clarifies Dr. Patrick Bacquaert, chief physician of the Institute for Welfare Research. sports health. In short, he saves himself. This explains why regular, moderate physical activity reduces the risk of stroke by 25%.

Among the many other benefits, physical activity also lowers blood pressure, strengthens bones and cartilage, and since muscles require more glucose, it prevents obesity and leads to lower insulin production and higher blood sugar. “Physical activity lowers the levels of inflammation and individual oxidative stress, and the higher they are, the greater the risk of developing serious disease,” explains endocrinologist professor Martine Duclos.

“And even in the case of accidents in life (stroke, cancer…), people who a physical activity beforehand are better armed and recover faster, because they are more accustomed to using their bodies,” notes Dr Christophe Delong, head of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Sainte-Périne Hospital (Paris).

SourceAssociation of the “Weekend Warrior” and Other Patterns of Leisure Physical Activity with All Causes and Causes of DeathJama Network, July 2022

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