Exercise Frequency May Not Matter As Long As You Work Out 150 Minutes A Week, Study Finds

When it comes to lowering your risk for metabolic syndrome, as long as you get your recommended amount of exercise in each week, it may not really matter how you space apart your workout time, according to a new study.

Researchers from Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, found that exercising for 150 minutes at a moderate-to-vigorous activity level had benefits for decreasing the odds of developing of metabolic syndrome, no matter if the exercise is done in multiple short spurts throughout the week, or done in bigger chunks a few times a week. Metabolic syndrome is a known risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, and includes a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and having a large waistline.

"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," study researcher Dr. Ian Janssen said in a statement.

The study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, included 2,324 Canadian adults ages 18 to 64 who were included in the 2007 to 2011 cycles of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. All the study participants' exercise was measured over a seven-day period using accelerometers.

Researchers separated out the physically active participants from the physically inactive participants; the physical active participants were assigned to either work out at a moderate-to-vigorous level for five or more days a week for 30 or more minutes, or for one to four days a week for 30 or more minutes.

Researchers did find that among the study participants who were physically active, the ones assigned to work out five or more days a week had a lower odds of metabolic syndrome than those who worked out one to four times a week. However, researchers noted that the difference was not significant, and that, ultimately, "frequency of physical activity throughout the week was not independently associated with the MetS [metabolic syndrome] among active adults. Conversely, the weekly volume of MVPA was strongly associated with the MetS."

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