Intuitively one would expect that individuals who exercise on most days over the course of the week would derive greater health advantages than those who cram their exercise into the weekend, the weekend warriors. A number of studies have suggested that regular exercise over the week delivers more health benefits but these studies involved self-reported activity and are certainly open to error. A recently published study took a more analytical approach to the question of whether regular or concentrated exercise activity is best. The study involved 3500 subjects, average age 58, who were divided into three groups, sedentary, regular and weekend warriors. Activity was measured using an accelerometer which measured intensity, duration and frequency. Only moderate to vigorous exercise was measured. The subjects were followed for 77 months.
Part of the results were as expected. The regular and weekend warriors had a significantly lower mortality than the sedentary group. In fact mortality among the two exercisers groups dropped 60-69%. What was surprising, however, there was no difference in mortality between the regular exercisers and the weekend warriors. The study showed that concentrating exercise over 1-2 days provides significant health benefits.
This study looked primarily at mortality rates. More comprehensive studies would have to be conducted to determine if regular exercise gives other health benefits in terms of injury prevention or other positive health parameters. The bottom line- even if your schedule is such that you cannot exercise every day you still get significant benefits from exercising on weekends.