The Minimum Amount of Exercise You Need to Live Longer

Scientists identified the exact number of days to hit the gym each week.

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Jan 10 2017, 1:00pm

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If you've slept through most of your workouts in a given week, you might feel guilty about it. So guilty that you go twice as hard on Saturday and Sunday to make up for those late mornings. 

While this "weekend warrior" mentality may not be the smartest way to get fit, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that it may be a perfectly fine way to add years to your life. The study found that two workouts a week is all people needed to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer compared to those who didn't work out at all.

In the study, the researchers analyzed nine years of British and Scottish death certificates—nearly 64,000 total. Then they divided people into four groups: the inactive (no reportable activity), the insufficiently active (less than 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week), the "weekend warriors" (who reported at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense exercise, crammed into two days or less), and the regularly active, who worked out more than twice a week. 

The researchers found that getting in at least two workouts made active people 41 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease and 18 percent less likely to die of cancer than sedentary people. And more than two workouts, you might be interested to know, did not produce even greater benefits—the weekend warriors, in other words, lived about as long as the gym rats. Roughly half of American adults fall into the "weekend warrior" and regularly active categories, according to a 2013 CDC survey

"The results mean that 'weekend warriors' and other leisure-time physical activity patterns characterized by one or two sessions per week may provide beneficial health outcomes," Emmanuel Stamatakis, a professor at the University of Sydney Medical School and the study's lead author, said in a press release.

If you're only going twice this week, you might as well make your workout count: Here's the least amount of exercise you need to look good.