written by the home doctor Maryborough team

Scheduling in workouts during the week can be tricky while juggling work, and tiredness. If you have mastered a good routine sometimes it might mean sacrificing other fun things like socialising.

Well, if you’re in need of an excuse to bail on weekday workouts, a study by Loughborough University and the University of Sydney has found there are benefits to doing exercise on weekends alone.

What are the benefits of exercise?


Dr Ryan Harvey an after hours GP  says “exercise releases serotonin and endorphins, which lift a person’s overall mood.”

According to a statement released by the University of Sydney, physical activity patterns of just one or two sessions a week may be enough to reduce the risk of death from conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Researchers said the findings suggest less frequent bouts of activity, which might fit more easily into a busy lifestyle. This was based on a survey of 64,000 people. It will offer significant health benefits, even in the obese and those with medical risk factors.

“Being physically active on just one or two occasions per week is associated with a lower risk of death. This is even among people who do some activity but don’t quite meet recommended exercise levels,” said the study’s senior author, Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamataki.

How are these findings different to standard exercise recommendations?

There are many benefits of exercise and we often hear being active can reduce the risk of future health problems. So, how do the results of this research, based on a weekend only regime, differ?

BBC News wrote a piece about the study. It went through the survey data and found people who workout multiple times during the week aren’t actually reducing their risk of developing serious conditions a lot more than those who cram all their exercise into two days.

“People who did all their exercise on one or two days of the week were found to lower their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 41 per cent and cancer by 18 per cent. This was compared with the inactive”.

“Those who exercised regularly on three or more days per week reduced their risks by 41 per cent and 21 per cent,” the article said.

“Even the insufficiently active lowered their risk by a significant amount – 37 per cent and 14 percent.”

Despite these statistics, the researchers said “for optimal health benefits of exercise it is always advisable to meet and exceed the physical activity recommendations”.

How often should we be exercising?

Australia’s Department of Health recommends the following:

  •  Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount
  •  Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  •  Accumulate 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity. I can be an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week
  •  Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.