primary care physicians exercise

Any Exercise Is Worth It, New Study Reports

Your Jupiter, FL physicians at the Medical Group of South Florida will often recommend exercise for any number of medical issues. You already know many of the benefits of exercise: cardiovascular health, improved mood, weight control, increased energy, lower stress, better control of such chronic diseases as diabetes and arthritis, and even cancer. Exercise has also been shown to help prevent dementia, depression and insomnia.

The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization, among others, recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, ideally spread out so you get some on most days. But your schedule makes it almost impossible to meet that goal.

Well, take heart. According to a new study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), those who confine their workouts to one or two sessions a week (dubbed “weekend warriors”) still lower their risk of dying over the next decade almost as much as those who exercise throughout the week.

Even those who don’t get the recommended total have a lower risk of death than people who don’t work out at all.

“If someone is completely inactive, the best thing they can do is even getting out and taking a walk,” said Hannah Arem, a health researcher at George Washington University. She was not involved in the study, but wrote a commentary accompanying the JAMA article. She called the results “encouraging or perhaps motivating” for those who think the little bit of time they can dedicate to exercise isn’t worth the effort.

Researchers at Loughborough University in England surveyed nearly 64,000 adults in England and Scotland from 1994 to 2008, and analyzed the results last year.

Participants were grouped according to how much exercise they said they got the preceding month:

  1. Inactive (no leisure time exercise), 63 percent;
  2. Regular exercisers (meet the guidelines), 11 percent;
  3. Weekend warriors (get the recommended weekly amount but in one or two sessions), 4 percent;
  4. Insufficiently active (get less than the recommended weekly amount), 22 percent.

The risk of dying from all causes was about 30 percent lower in weekend warriors and insufficient exercisers versus those who were inactive. Regular exercisers lowered their risk slightly more, by 35 percent.

Any amount of vigorous activity helped cut the risk of dying of heart disease by about 40 percent, compared to those who reported no exercise at all.

“I don’t know that we’re ready to say, based on this study, that people shouldn’t try to exercise more than that if they can,” Dr. Daniel Rader, preventive cardiology chief at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press. “People who exercise more regularly report that they feel like they have a better quality of life,” among other benefits, he said.

Still, the results are “quite fascinating and a bit surprising” on the “dose” of exercise needed for benefit, Rader said. “Even if you only have time to do something once a week, this study would suggest it’s still worth doing.”