Using data from the surveys and The British National Health Service Central Registry for Deaths, the authors then compared how many from each category had died during the study.
Weekend warrior exercisers had a 30 per cent lower risk of premature death from all causes compared to inactive people. Risk of death from cardiovascular disease was also around 40 per cent lower, while risk of death from all types of cancer was around 18 per cent lower compared to those who were inactive.
Of course, regularly active people had the best health overall – and had a 5 per cent lower risk of premature death from any cause compared to weekend warriors. This finding is consistent with previous research, which suggests the more exercise you do, the more beneficial it is to your health.
But this is only true up to a certain point – with research showing that doing more than five times the minimum recommended weekly activity (the equivalent of around 12.5 hours of moderately exercise, or just over six hours of vigorous activity) has no added benefits.
THE RISK OF "DETRAINING"
It’s well-known that exercise improves our cardiorespiratory fitness, which is important for making sure our heart and lungs function effectively. Not only does this allow us to exercise longer and more intensely, it also improves other aspects of our health – such as lowering blood pressure.
This is also likely the reason research shows people who exercise regularly have lower risk of premature death from any cause. Exercise also lowers body fat and reduces inflammation, which may all explain why physical activity reduces risk of death from cancer.
But research shows that how often you exercise is also important for improving and maintaining fitness. In fact, as little as 72 hours between workouts is enough for “detraining” to happen. This refers to the partial or complete loss of training adaptations (such as better cardiovascular function) that happens when we stop exercising.