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Weekend warrior: Risks and Benefits

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Weekend warriors: Yay or nay? The jury appears to still be out, with differing opinions on the benefits of such a lifestyle.

Some view them as sedentary people who head out for the occasional bout of physical activity; some think of working professionals who shed their office wear for exercise gear every weekend, training for a race or competition.

breathingPhoto: Sport Singapore

 

According to Dr. Frankie Tan, Head of the Sport Science & Medicine Centre and Principal Sport Physiologist at the Singapore Sport Institute, weekend warriors – or those who exercise weekly – are as fit as those who work out regularly throughout the week.

He revealed: “If you are a weekend warrior who truly trains every weekend, say, for four hours over the two days, that’s fine – you’ll still be as fit as those who exercise for four hours in total over the five weekdays. This is very reassuring as it tells people that it’s okay even if you’re too busy from Monday to Friday, as long as you find time to do a sufficient amount over the weekend.”

Yet, while this is a positive sign in terms of general fitness, Tan notes that exercising frequently usually brings more health benefits than simply working out over the weekend.

“Insulin sensitivity tends to respond to frequent exercising, such as 30 minutes to an hour a day, compared to just one or two days a week. Purely from the health aspect, it’s better to exercise throughout the week as it improves insulin sensitivity,” he explained.

cycling 

Photo: Sport Singapore

 

A higher risk of injury is also a concern when it comes to exercising in a non-progressive and non-regular manner, according to Dr. Tan.

“It’s been a trend these days for people to engage in races – running, cycling, triathlons, and the like. If weekend warriors get too intense over a couple of months just preparing for a race, and are typically stressed out at work on weekdays, sleeping late and not eating well, they might get injured,” he added.

After all, moderation is key. Weekend warriors should always ensure that their workout duration and intensity are sufficient, and that their training is done in a progressive manner, without any extreme changes. Tan recommends about 150 minutes of easy to moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of moderate to intense exercise in a week.

Easy to moderate exercises encompass all forms of physical activity, including doing household chores, walking to the MRT station, going grocery shopping, and doing structured exercises. An intense run or a good game of football, constitute moderate to intense exercises.

While he acknowledged that many working adults struggled to find time for exercise on weekdays, there were still ways to break the sedentariness, and better prepare the body for their weekend training.

pool workout  

Photo: Sport Singapore

 

He shared more about getting around tight schedules: “Personally, I cycle on weekends. But on weekdays, I try to do a little bit of gym in the mornings. It’s about balance and making the time.”

After all, better beats perfect, and any exercise is better than none at all. Once you start exercising regularly, you can begin improving your skills and technique, and maybe even take part in amateur tournaments!

If you are already a weekend warrior, why not test your abilities on a different stage by participating in the Singapore National Games this year, part of Get Active! Singapore? Stay tuned to the webpage for more information!

 

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