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Do weekend warriors reap any health benefits?

January 09, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC (January 9, 2017)--The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise spread out during the week. This could be accomplished by walking 30 minutes five days a week, but for many people even that modest amount of time just isn't there during the work week. But can people get a health benefit by working up a sweat only on the weekends?

Yes, says a study that will appear in the January 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (JAMA IM). The study suggests that so-called "weekend warriors" have significantly lower all-cause mortality compared with inactive people. For people constrained by a busy weekday schedule, this study provides support for compressing their workout into a day or two, says a commentary that accompanies the study in the same issue. At the same time, there are still many questions remaining about the optimal dose of physical activity in terms of total time, frequency, and intensity, say the authors of the invited commentary Hannah Arem and Loretta DiPietro both from Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University.

Arem and DiPietro go on to say that people who exercise throughout the week or on a daily basis may be getting additional health benefits, such as countering the negative effects of an otherwise inactive lifestyle. For busy people, they recommend building short stints of physical activity into a daily routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking short, frequent walks.
To obtain a copy of the invited commentary, which is embargoed until January 9 at 11 a.m. ET USA or to schedule an interview with Arem or DiPietro please contact Kathy Fackelmann at 202-994-8354 or

Hannah Arem, PhD, is corresponding author on this commentary and is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Milken Institute School SPH. Dr. Arem can talk about her 2015 study also in JAMA IM on physical inactivity and the risk of premature death. She also has expertise on the associations between physical activity and sedentary time in relation to cancer risk and survival.

Loretta DiPietro, PhD, is the Chair of the Department of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences at Milken Institute SPH. She can talk about what people can do to counteract the health risks associated with sedentary behavior, such as sitting in front of a computer all day long. She can also talk about how moderate exercise may be able to improve health and prevent diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. Dr. DiPietro is a member of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee and a nationally recognized expert in the field of exercise science.

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University: Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation's capital. Today, more than 1,900 students from 54 U.S. states and territories and more than 50 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.

George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health

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