We know that you workout maximally. However sometimes life, job, and family hours gets in the way. Happily, a new research reveals there's no shame in being a "weekend warrior"—you know, someone who only has time to squeeze in a workout one or two times a week. The study, printed in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, examined population-based surveys of nearly 64,000 adults and found that people had a 30 percent lower risk of dying during the study if they hit the World Health Organization’s suggested threshold of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of energetic activity—regardless of whether those minutes were spread between one, two, or six workouts per week.
While they believe further studies need to be done, that mostly means that, yes, you can achieve your weekly fitness goal in one torturous 150-minute session per week, if that's what suits your needs. Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., of SoHo Strength Lab and Promix Nutrition, notes that the study compared people who exercised to some degree against those who absolutely didn’t, making it not all that surprising that those who did some form of workout fared better health-wise. “Moving is better than sitting,” he adds.
And Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer and founder of New York City-based fitness training studio PhilanthroFIT, agrees stating that “this basically reinforces what many have known and suspected for years—consistent physical activity at a proper intensity can be beneficial to your long-term health,” he says. But, Sklar highlights that while exercising twice a week is adequate for beginners, it’s really better to try to do more. “For more experienced ones however, I would recommend 3 to 5 times per week,” Doug Sklar adds.
Matheny says that regularly working out is very likely to make you even healthier than those who work out here and there. “How healthy do you want to be?” he asks. “Everyone can move for at least 22 minutes every day—that is more than 150 minutes a week in total.” But, if you’re strapped for time and know you can only get in one or two exercises on a given week, Sklar suggests full-body strength training combined with high-intensity interval training. “The strength element will help promote and sustain lean muscle and bone density, while the high-intensity intervals will increase your heart rate and challenge your cardiovascular system,” he explains.
Matheny says you should have your heart rate increased for the entire exercise, which should also consist of mobility workouts and movement in different planes (i.e. not just moving forward or to one side). That can include a bodyweight warm-up, strength training, intervals, and running or swimming, Matheny adds. While it’s possible to exercise hard one or two days a week and meet your weekly fitness requirements, Matheny says it’s actually better to be regular if you can. “You don't need to go hard every day, and it would be likely better if you didn't, but you should completely move every day in some form,” he suggests.