Weekend warrior

A new study suggests concentrated weekend riding lowers the risk of heart disease


Photo Danny Bird

A burst of activity on the weekend could be just as good for you as more regular exercise, according to a recent study.

The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per week ‘for significant health benefits for hearts, bodies and minds’.

MVPA is defined in terms of METs, ‘metabolic equivalent of task’, where one MET is the equivalent energy expended when sat down at rest; MVPA is defined as around 6 METs.

A MET is measured in oxygen uptake per kilo of bodyweight per minute, or ml02/kg/min, which for the average person is around 3.5ml O2, or the equivalent of burning 1kcal per kg of bodyweight per hour.

Happily for us, cycling at 20kmh represents around 8 METs while attacking a steep climb is around 15 METs, so the average ride is very much at the upper end of what the WHO hopes we’ll do.

It has long been thought the best approach is to spread this exercise out across the week, but a study published this July in the Journal Of The American Medical Association has found similar cardiovascular health benefits are conferred from exercise activity ‘concentrated within one to two days of the week (ie, a “weekend warrior” pattern)’.

The study analysed data from 89,573 individuals collected by biomedical database UK Biobank, split them into ‘weekend warriors’, ‘active regular’ and ‘inactive’ groups and observed that the risk incidence for things such as a heart attack or stroke was the same for WW and active regular groups.

For context, such MVPA exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular incidence by around 20-40%.

Cyclist Australia/NZ