Is it Bad to Workout Just Once a Week?

Better Body Programme in London - The Better Body Guru

While it’s better to be working out once a week than not at all, that one session per week may come with a catch.


According to a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, you may only need to work out once a week to gain the health benefits including lowered risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other health issues.


In the study, when looking at people's exercise habits (with patterns defined as "inactive," "weekend warrior," and "regularly active") in comparison to their death rates, researchers found that "1 to 2 sessions every week of moderate to vigorous-intensity purposeful physical activity was sufficient to reduce CVD, and cancer mortality risks regardless of today’s physical activity guidelines.


So if you want to work out just once or twice a week, it needs to be fairly intensive. According to these findings, you would need to be doing at least 75 minutes of intense exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise to see the benefits if you're only working out once or twice a week.


The NHS Guidelines for healthy amounts of exercise for adults is this:


  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  

  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles - (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Read more about it following this link:

The examples the NHS outline are pretty moderate and you would definitely need a higher amount of exercise to see any real changes. Although you may not have time to fit in several sessions per week, if you are smart with your workouts, focused every time you’re participating in your session, and attending consistently, the results will be staggering!

While lots of people break up their workouts by exercising for shorter periods of time more frequently  — eg. 30 minutes a day, several days a week — some people prefer to exercise in longer, more intense bursts, or only have time to get to their sessions once or twice a week.

For these people, so called "weekend warriors", the current study's findings will be welcome news.


So really, as long as you’re putting in the work when you are able to be at a session, you will reap the benefits. How much you want to achieve and over how long is a choice you make for yourself.


As such, there's no need to feel pressured to do what your body isn't ready for. Improving your health and fitness is a lifestyle and mentality change, not just a one off fad.


Once a week should be a highly intense workout, twice or more a week is fantastic and getting your sessions in more often than that is even better! But all depends on your own individual goals - remember, what you put in is what you get out!

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