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Good news for weekend warriors: The number of times you exercise in a week isn't as important as getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity, a new study finds.
Researchers looked at more than 2,300 Canadian adults to determine if their exercise frequency affected their risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The participants were classified as either frequently active (five to seven days a week) or infrequently active (one to four days a week).
People who did 150 minutes of exercise on just a few days of the week were no less healthy than those who worked out more often, according to the study published recently in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.
"The findings indicate that it does not matter how adults choose to accumulate their 150 weekly minutes of physical activity," Dr. Ian Janssen, of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said in a university news release.
"For instance, someone who did not perform any physical activity on Monday to Friday but was active for 150 minutes over the weekend would obtain the same health benefits from their activity as someone who accumulated 150 minutes of activity over the week by doing 20 to 25 minutes of activity on a daily basis," he explained.
"The important message is that adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity in whatever pattern that works for their schedule," Janssen said.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.