With scientists collecting and analyzing massive quantities of data, we now know plenty about the benefits of exercise and the benefits it can bring to your overall health.

We’re familiar with things such as the best time of the your day for exercising, the most often you should workout and the type of level of intensity you should strive for.

A lot of these are guidelines however, they’re basing on aggregated data by thousands of people which shows what seems to be the most effective for the majority of people. It’s also based on a lot of different perspectives too.

They can, for instance, give us fascinating and valuable information, such as the amount of exercise required to combat sitting all day, or what is the you can keep your weight off and how just one workout could bring positive health benefits.

Every study has information we can draw from and adapt to our own lives. If you’re like the majority of people among us, one of the main challenges with exercising is making time for it on a regular basis.

On this front scientists also have new information. It’s good news.

In a recent international study, researchers looked at the public health records of more than 350,000 individuals in the US from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) between 1997 between 1997 and 2013.

While scouring the data, the team , led by the lead writer Mauricio dos Santos, a researcher in exercise physiology at the Federal University of Sao Paolo in Brazil was faced with a specific query they wanted to answer.

In simple terms, if you’re working out enough to achieve the recommended level of physical activity per week, is it a matter of whether you complete the workout in only one or even two times (aka “weekend warriors’) or is it more beneficial to spread your physical exercise over three or more sessions throughout the week?

At present in the process of being implemented, currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 guidelines for physical activity and sedentary behaviour require that adults participate in 150-300 mins of moderately intense exercise every week, and 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise every week (or any other equivalent combination of the two).

While research has previously considered the benefits to health of being a “weekend athlete’, it’s unclear how just one or two hours of physical activity a week compares to more frequently exercise sessions specifically in terms of decreasing the risk of death.

Thank you to dos Santos and co. Now we have a more clear answer.

After comparing the group who exercised at the recommended amount in moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise (MVPA) every week, the researchers observed no significant differences among weekend-time warriors and people who exercised more frequently with regard to a lower mortality risks from all causes including heart disease or cancer.

“We observed that weekend warriors and active participants regularly were both affected by the same cause and all-cause mortality rates, which suggests that when doing the identical amount of physical exercise and spreading it across longer periods of time or condensing it over a shorter period of time may have no effect on mortality,” the study authors note in their research article.

The most important point to take away and not thinking about the frequency or time you should exercise – is to make an effort to achieve the recommended levels of exercise each week, as it is during this time that the beneficial benefits of exercise can evidently be felt.

In 10.4 months (the median time span for that participants participated in the study) nearly 22,000 participants who participated in the NHIS died. For all participants the probability of dying due to different causes was typically considerably lower when they performed the recommended amount of physical fitness.

“The results of this massive prospective cohort study indicate that those who follow physically active routines such as weekend warriors or regularly active, have lower mortality rates for all causes and rates than people who are inactive,” the team explains.

“Compared with those who are physically inactive the hazard ratios for all cause mortalities was 0.92 for weekend warriors and 0.85 for those who are regularly active The results for mortality based on cause were comparable.”

The researchers highlight some shortcomings of their study, such that the survey results were derived from self-reported questionnaires which are vulnerable to include a certain amount of error, compared with more objective measures.

The positive side is that these findings are based on the study of a large group for a long time that can provide us with an enormous amount of confidence in the data that are reported.

In the end, the results prove many of the things we know about exercise: It can be beneficial to your health and for the majority of us, regular exercise of it could make us live longer.

It’s also true even if you’re not a time-strapped person so long as you have the an effort to squeeze in a exercise or two.

“For those who have less chances to engage in regular or daily physical activity during the week the findings are significant,” the researchers explain.

The results are published by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.