Exercising for two-and-a-half hours across two days could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as other serious health conditions, research has said.
A study has shown that achieving 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity into one or two sessions at the weekend is enough to reduce the risk of an early death by a third.
The research team from Loughborough University and the University of Sydney said the findings could mean good news for busy people who have become “weekend warriors” by fitting a strong amount of exercise into weekends.
More than 64,000 people aged over 40 took part in the research which compared different exercise routines and the effect on health through a study period of 18 years.
As long as the recommended exercise targets were completed, the same health benefits were reported, which appears to suggest that it does not matter so much whether the sessions are carried out across two days or across an entire week.
Dr Gary O’Donova, study author and expert in physical activity and health, from Loughborough University, said: “The weekend warrior and other physical activity patterns characterised by one or two sessions per week of moderate or vigorous-intensity physical activity may be sufficient to reduce risks for all-cause, [heart disease] and cancer mortality regardless of adherence to prevailing physical activity guidelines.”
The study also showed that physical exercise, whether it is carried out regularly or not, provides a better health outcome for those who are never active at all.
Those who do the recommended weekly exercise at weekends lowered their risk of dying from heart disease by 41 per cent and cancer by 18 per cent.
Regular exercisers who carry out their activity across three or more days reduced their risk of heart disease by the same amount (41 per cent) and of cancer by 21 per cent.
Whilst the research did not directly investigate type 2 diabetes, the reduction in risks of heart and cancer most likely to point to a corresponding benefit in terms of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes too.
The findings have been published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.

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