People at higher income levels are more likely than the poor to get recommended levels of exercise—but they achieve it through bursts of activity after long stretches of sitting, according to a new study.
In the study, which appeared this week in Preventive Medicine,
the “weekend warrior” phenomenon was most common among those earning at least $75,000 a year. Data from US adults who took part in the National Health Examination Survey were assessed for household income and activity level, and whether they met recommended physical activity guidelines over a 7-day period or over a 2-day period over the course of a week.
Current US guidelines
for adults are 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, such as walking, or 75 minutes of rigorous activity, such as jogging or swimming laps.
Those in the highest income category were 1.6 times more likely to meet the guidelines in the 2-day period and 1.9 times more likely to meet them in the 7-day period than people earning less than $20,000 per year. Those in the lowest income group were less likely to engage in rigorous activity but also less likely to be completely sedentary than the upper income group; they engaged in light activity.
The upper income group had 4.6 more minutes per day of moderate activity but also 11.8 minutes per day of sedentary time than the lowest-income group, the study found.
Cramming physical activity into just a few days isn’t recommended, according to the US Surgeon General
. Recommendations in recent years have called for periods of walking, at least 22 minutes a day. Doing so can reduce a host of ills, including depression and cancer, and can improve cognitive function, besides helping control weight.
Data released with the recommendation showed that the number of minutes walked per week rose along with education level, suggesting that those with more means tend to have more opportunity to exercise. Poverty can deter exercise if it is not safe to walk outside.
Shuval K, Qing L, Gabriel KP, Tchernis R. Income, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and the “weekend warrior” among US adults [published online August 10, 2017]. Prevent Med.