Fitness and Weight Loss Is it even worth it to exercise just 1 day per week?

You don't need to go intensely every day, but you should absolutely move every day in some form

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This total-body move will get you the biceps of your dreams play

This total-body move will get you the biceps of your dreams

(Men's Health)
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We’ve all been there.

No doubt you do your best to work out regularly. But sometimes life, work, and happy hour gets in the way.

Luckily, a new study shows 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, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, analyzed 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 recommended threshold of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity—regardless of whether those minutes were spread between one, two, or six workouts per week. 

While researchers say further studies need to be done, that basically means that, yes, you can meet 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, points out that the study compared people who exercised to some degree against those who don’t exercise at all, making it not all that shocking that those who did some form of exercise fared better health-wise. “Moving is better than not moving,” he says.

And Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer and founder of New York City-based fitness training studio PhilanthroFIT, agrees. “This simply reinforces what many have known and suspected for years—regular physical activity at an appropriate intensity can be beneficial to your long-term health,” he says.

However, Sklar notes that while working out twice a week is sufficient for beginners, it’s really better to try to do more. “For more experienced exercisers, I would recommend three to five times per week,” he says. (Squeeze in quickie workouts with Women's Health's All in 18 DVD!) 

Matheny says that regularly exercising is very likely to make you even healthier than those who work out here and there. “How healthy do you want to be?” he says. “Everyone can move for at least 22 minutes every day—that is more than 150 minutes a week.”

However, if you’re strapped for time and know you can only get in one or two workouts on a given week, Sklar recommends full-body strength training paired with high-intensity interval training. “The strength component will help to develop and maintain lean muscle and bone density, while the high-intensity intervals will elevate your heart rate and challenge your cardiovascular system,” he explains.

Matheny says you should have your heart rate elevated for the entire workout, which should also consist of mobility exercises and movement in different planes (i.e. not just moving forward or to one side). That can include a bodyweight warmup, strength training, intervals, and running or swimming, he says.

While it’s possible to work out hard one or two days a week and meet your weekly fitness requirements, Matheny says it’s really better to be consistent if you can. “You don't need to go intensely every day, and it would be likely better if you didn't, but you should absolutely move every day in some form,” he says.

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