By Mary Perry, Zone Director of Clinical Trials
Being active and playing sports is something that has been ingrained in many of us since childhood.
Someone once told me that if you’re active when you’re younger, you’re more likely to be active when you’re older. Even if you’re no longer as active as you once were, getting back into it is like riding a bike.
When I was younger, I played sports or trained for events to stay in shape. For my husband, sports were much more competitive having played Division I lacrosse. For both of us, gone are the days of marathon training or pick-up sports on the weekend. With four girls under the age of 6, our exercise routine consists of carrying our twins in their car seats, following them room to room, running up and down stairs, doing laundry, rinse and repeat.
While on the lifestyle activity front we may still be clocking some good mileage, we are both hard pressed to find time during the week for an established workout routine. Our only hope is the weekend.
The Irony of Having All the Time and No Time at All
I can’t help but consider the irony of aging. When we’re young, it seems like we have all the time in the world. When we could be spending more time focusing on diet and exercise, it’s either the last thing on our mind, or done primarily out of vanity.
Fast forward to the age we want to take our health by the reigns. Whether it’s to have more energy, avoid premature aging, ward off disease and, yes to still look good in a swimsuit, life gets in the way. BUT there may be a silver lining.
How One to Two Bouts of Exercise Might Be All You Need
The current recommendation for physical activity is to do at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Ideally to make this more feasible, the thinking is that by spreading this into 30-minute increments 5 times a week, it might be more realistic. The reality is that even 30 minutes at this frequency is too tough for the majority of us.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association used a survey to look at the frequency of exercise and mortality risk. The authors were specially looking at weekend warriors, those who fit all their activity into one or two days a week.
According to the study, even if we can find a way to be physically active (totaling ≥150 minutes per week in moderate–intensity or ≥75 minutes per week in vigorous–intensity activities) in just one or two days a week, we could significantly reduce our risk for mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
So essentially, whether its pick-up basketball games, 5K races or clocking minutes running the bases, you might be able to reap many of the same benefits in one to two days that you would by spreading your workouts over five.
Data Reveals How You May Reduce Your Risk for Pre-mature Death
This study above compiled data from English and Scottish Health Surveys conducted between the years of 1994 to 2012. It revealed some interesting longevity figures. The study included approximately 63,500 individuals over the age of 40, examining their activity level as well as mortality data. The classifications for activity level were as follows:
- Inactive—no moderate or vigorous activities.
- Insufficiently active—reporting <150 min/wk in moderate–intensity and <75 min/wk in vigorous activities.
- Weekend warrior—reporting ≥150 min/wk in moderate–intensity or ≥75 min/wk in vigorous-intensity activities from 1 or 2 sessions.
- Regularly active—reporting ≥150 min/wk in moderate–intensity or ≥75 min/wk in vigorous–intensity activities from ≥3 sessions.
Results revealed that as long as you are active, whether you do all your workouts in one or two days, or do leisurely activities throughout the week, you might be able to reduce your risk of premature death by 30%.
Make a Change Today
Eliminate the guilt about not getting to the gym as often as you’d like. Vow to, at a minimum, become a weekend warrior (or even a weekday warrior). Aim for at least one to two high-intensity workouts a week.
While time might be working against us as we age, we can make up for it by prolonging our years by taking care of our bodies.