According to scientific research by the British Loughborough University, published in Jama International Medicine, even one or two sessions of sporting activity per week still have their benefits in terms of prevention.
The research involved nearly 64,000 adults, who regularly reported between 1994 and 2012 how much physical activity they had carried out in the previous four weeks. The data collected showed that, although at a lower level recommended by international guidelines, physical activity still protects the cardiovascular system and health in general.
We discuss this topic with Professor Daniela Lucini, Head of the Section for Exercise Medicine in Humanitas.
The identikit of athletes during the weekend
“Usually, those who struggle to carve out time for physical activity during the week tend to prefer the weekend. The so-called weekend athletes are average young adults and workers, who tend to do weekend sports precisely due to long weekly hours. They often present a good physical picture; they are healthy, trained and have normal weight. In this case and with this profile, a physical activity that is concentrated in only two days per week – perhaps of a certain intensity – brings benefits to cardiovascular health. Taking an hour of swimming on Saturdays and perhaps 45 minutes on Sundays, for example, is a great activity, with positive health effects,” says Professor Lucini.
This mental attitude, which induces people to devote themselves to sport during the weekend (or on other free days of the week), shows – in most cases – a lifestyle marked by movement. These people generally tend to move during the week, walk or cycle wherever possible, choose stairs over elevators, and cook their food.
Therefore, we can say that, although it would be ideal to devote oneself to aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day every day of the week, when carried out at moderate intensity, or 20-30 minutes three times a week if carried out at vigorous intensity, preferably after consultation with one’s doctor or specialist. Exercise and movement are still essential for physical and mental wellbeing and overall little is better than nothing.
“Alongside physical exercise, it is also a good idea to combine an active lifestyle that contrasts with sedentary activity, starting with everyday life,” recalls Professor Lucini.