Only people with higher incomes can afford to be ‘weekend warriors’ in the gym – but they still face health woes from their sedentary work life, a study warns.
Experts are observing more people cramming all their week’s exercise into two days, since they don’t have time during the week.
However, a new report by the American Cancer Society found that the only weekend warriors who meet their week’s exercise needs are wealthy – perhaps because they can cover the eye-watering costs of highly intense workout programs like CrossFit and SoulCycle.
And yet, the data show those individuals are still more sedentary than others during the week.
It means that weekend warriors who don’t have the money for bootcamp-style classes, and simply rely on a run outside, have no chance of reaching their recommended weekly amount of fitness, increasing their risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Experts warns the figures should be a red flag to public health officials since more and more people – both low income and high income – are working long hours in sedentary office jobs, with little time to exercise.
The ‘weekend warrior’ trend is where people cram a week of workouts into two days due to time constraints. Researchers found that people with higher incomes were meeting their exercise needs more but were more sedentary during the week
The American Heart Association recommends that adults spend 150 minutes per week doing moderate-intensity exercises (walking, cycling or swimming) or 75 minutes per week doing vigorous exercises (running).
American Cancer Society researchers studied accelerometer data from 5,206 adults to analyze physical activity trends.
With this data, they compared how often people were active and inactive compared to their income level.
Researchers noticed from the activity monitors that those with an annual income of $75,000 or higher were more likely to be sedentary during the week and more active during the weekend.
These individuals were also more likely to meet their physical requirement guidelines.
Lower income individuals of $20,000 or lower were not as sedentary during the week but also less likely to meet their exercise needs.
Previous research collected from activity monitors has shown that only five percent of US adults meet the physical activity guidelines.
This is in contrast to ample evidence supporting physical activity to help reduce risk of premature death and many diseases, including some cancers.
At the same time, previous evidence has shown that prolonged sedentary behavior is harmful to your health.
Those with a lower income tend to experience more time constraints as well as financial barriers such as not having an affordable gym.
But lower income individuals also are more likely to be less sedentary during the week because they aren’t working office jobs.
This is in contrast to higher income individuals who also have limited time but more financial resources to access gyms or other workout programs.
Higher income individuals are also more likely to be sedentary due to office jobs.
The study found that individuals making $75,000 or more annually were doing 4.6 more daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise.
But they also spent 11.8 more minutes daily sitting than lower income individuals.
Dr Kerem Shuval from the American Cancer Society said: ‘Our findings pertaining to income and the ‘weekend warrior’ effect underscore the importance of tailoring the physical activity message to reflect the constraints of both low and high income individuals.’
The study showed that the ‘weekend warrior’ mentality did work for higher income people because they met the physical requirements 1.6 times more over two days than those with other income levels.
‘It is important to remember, however, that we should increase the duration and intensity of activity gradually to avoid injury,’ Dr Shuval said. ‘Also, if inactive consult with a physician before embarking on an exercise program.’
The ‘weekend warrior’ mentality can lead to more injuries and stress on the body if not done right.
It also leaves the lower income individuals with fewer options to remain healthy in their daily lifestyle.
‘To meet guidelines one can engage in 150 minutes of weekly moderate intensity activity over a two or three-day period rather than seven days, for example,’ Doctor Shuval said. ‘This can be achieved over a long weekend, a message we may want to convey to those pressed for time.’