Doing 150 minutes of exercise is just as good for you all in one go as it is broken up into several sessions each week, researchers from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, reported in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Ian Janssen and Janine Clarke found that adults who had built up 150 minutes of physical exercise over just a couple of days during a 7-day period were not less healthy or fit than those who had exercised more frequently (and done a total of 150 minutes).

The researchers examined data on 2,325 adults throughout Canada to find out whether physical activity frequency impacts on the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Dr. Janssen said:

“The findings indicate that it does not matter how adults choose to accumulate their 150 weekly minutes of physical activity.

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 20-25 minutes of activity on a daily basis.”

The participants were asked to wear accelerometers on their waists throughout the week so that the researchers could measure their physical activity continuously. An accelerometer is a small electrical device, about the size of a small box of matches, that registers a minute-by-minute recording of a person’s movements.

The researchers divided the participants who achieved at least 150 minutes a week into two groups:

  • The high frequency group – they did exercise at least five days a week
  • The low frequency group – they exercise from one to four days a week

They found that those in the low frequency group were no less healthy than the participants in the high frequency group. In other words, what counts in exercise is how much, rather than how often.

Dr. Janssen said:

“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.”

12 minutes a week is all you need – Norwegian researchers found that just 12-minutes of intensive exercise a week can make you healthy and fit. Four-minute bursts of intense physical activity three times a week can raise oxygen intake levels as well as reduce blood pressure and glucose levels.

The scientists said “Regular exercise training improves maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), but the optimal intensity and volume necessary to obtain maximal benefit remains to be defined. A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise training with low-volume but high-intensity may be a time-efficient means to achieve health benefits.”

Thirty minutes as good as 60 – A team at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, reported in the American Journal of Physiology (August 2012 issue) that 30 minutes of exercise daily is as good for you as 60 minutes per day for weight loss. Team member, Mads Rosenkilde, Ph.D., said “On average, the men who exercised 30 minutes a day lost 3.6 kilo in three months, while those who exercised for a whole hour only lost 2.7 kg. The reduction in body mass was about 4 kg for both groups.”

Written by Christian Nordqvist