I always say that anytime you can exercise is a good time, there are still some exceptions to the rule. Sometimes, people live a sedentary life five days a week and then become the GI Joe of the gym on the weekends. If you find your weekly schedule too crowded for exercise and spend your weekend focused on getting healthier and fitter, you need to be aware of the dangers of being a gym weekend warrior. Exercising is important, no matter when you do it, but you must watch out for these pitfalls.
There are studies that show weekend warriors get health benefits from getting all the exercise necessary in one or two days.
One study published in JAMA Internal Medicine used information surveyed from 63,591 adults. The survey showed that exercise lowered the risk of death approximately 30 percent, regardless of whether the exercise was done in one or two sessions a week or spread out throughout the week. The one or two sessions had to equal the same amount of time spent in five or more sessions to get the same results. The amount of time spent in vigorous activity should be approximately 75 minutes or 150 minutes of moderate activity.
Your risk of heart disease is lowered no matter what way you exercise, but there are other risks.
Even though you get the heart healthy benefits when you’re a weekend gym warrior, you face other risks. The risk of injury grows when you push too hard on just one or two days. People who just exercise on the weekend often push hard or enjoy sports on the weekend, rather than just spend two and a half hours walking. That vigorous exercise can cause musculoskeletal injuries due to overuse. Exercising on a regular basis throughout the week tends to reduce the likelihood of fractures and strains. Too vigorous of a workout can trigger rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to serious complications.
Ease into your workout by preparing your body for the high intensity.
One reasons weekend warriors often suffer from injuries is that their muscles aren’t ready for the sudden jolt. You also have to be aware of the the potential for dehydration, keeping sports drinks and water close at hand, particularly on hot days. You can prepare you body by focusing on a pre and post workout stretching, plus adequate hydration. Adequate warm-up and cool down are of prime importance particularly if you are sedentary throughout the week. Work with a personal trainer to create a list of stretches you can do the first thing in the morning or later in the day to boost your flexibility and help prevent strains It doesn’t take much activity throughout the week to lower the risk of injury. Devoting just ten minutes each day to stretching exercises lowers the risk dramatically.
- If your schedule is so demanding that weekends are the only possible answer, start slowly and gradually ease into an intense workout. Run a few laps and do stretches before playing ball with friends. It can help prevent damage that will keep you out of the game for a long time.
- To get the maximum benefit from your workout, especially if it’s only one or two days a week, consider adding High Intensity Interval Training—HIIT—to your workout program. You’ll get maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time.
- For those inactive during the week and switch up to high activity on weekends. Be aware of the symptoms of rhabdomyolysis and/or dehydration. Avoid training in extremely hot weather. Rhabdomyolysis can be extremely dangerous and even life threatening.