Lazy weekends may boost body fat, study shows

March 3, 2016 by Maureen Salamon, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—Playing couch potato on the weekends may be even worse for your weight than working at a desk all week, new research suggests.

Exercise scientists reported that even a 20-minute reduction in on Saturdays and Sundays added up to a loss of more than 2 pounds and 1.6 percent of body fat after a year. But the same association was not seen with sedentary time during the weekdays.

"We know that, on average, people consume less or eat healthier diets on weekdays," explained study author Clemens Drenowatz, an assistant professor of exercise science at University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.

"So, they may be able to get by with less activity on weekdays because their diet makes up for it. On weekends, they're eating more, which requires more activity or less sedentary behavior to offset," Drenowatz said.

The study findings are scheduled to be presented Wednesday at an American Heart Association meeting in Phoenix. Studies presented at scientific conferences typically have not been peer-reviewed or published, and results are considered preliminary.

Much research in recent years has established an association between sedentary behavior—which includes time sitting watching television or using computers—with poor health outcomes, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

In a group of 332 adults aged 20 to 35, Drenowatz and his colleagues measured the time participants were sedentary by using a device that measured inactivity over a 10-day period. Participants also reported their own sedentary behaviors separately for weekdays and the weekend.

In addition, the study participants' body weight and body fat measurements were taken every three months over a one-year period.

"From what we saw, the overall sedentary time wasn't different on weekdays versus weekends," Drenowatz said. "A lot of people had sedentary occupations, like office jobs, and they didn't really make up for that on the weekends either. This suggests diet is the reason, though obviously more research needs to be done."

Two clinicians from Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., weighed in on the findings. They suggested that healthy workplace behaviors—such as light lunches and midday walks—may help balance out the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day.

Many people "don't really have the option of being that inactive on weekdays," said Dr. Omar Khan, medical director for community health at Christiana Care. "Weekends are a whole different matter. There's a big opportunity to be healthy—or, as many of us tend to be, fairly unhealthy. With a two-day chunk of potentially being a , anything we do in that space can be fairly significant."

Karen Anthony, senior program manager for community health at Christiana Care, suggested that moving around for an extra 20 minutes on the weekends—which seemed to spur measurable weight loss in study participants—could lead to even more activity.

"Twenty minutes is a fraction of your weekend," she said. "It doesn't take a whole lot of extra movement to see that result."

Drenowatz said it's important to distinguish between exercising and merely reducing sedentary time, which means less sitting.

"I'm not telling people they need to go out and exercise—that's a separate issue—but just to reduce their sedentary time. It may be just standing up and walking around a bit ... can help," Drenowatz suggested.

He and Khan also noted that a loss of 1.6 percent of body fat over one year simply by moving 20 minutes more on the weekends may have a positive impact on the risks for developing heart disease.

"A lot of people get caught up with body weight, but from a health perspective, and where it's located actually has a bigger impact on cardiovascular disease over the long term," Drenowatz said.

Explore further: Study finds smartphones may decrease sedentary time, increase activity

More information: The American College of Sports Medicine offers tips on reducing sedentary behaviors.

Related Stories

Study finds smartphones may decrease sedentary time, increase activity

January 25, 2016
A pilot study finds that using smartphone reminders to prompt people to get moving may help reduce sedentary behavior. The study was supported by the American Cancer Society, with technical expertise provided by the e-Health ...

Sedentary behavior linked to poor health in adults with severe obesity

January 12, 2016
Sedentary behavior is associated with poor cardiovascular health and diabetes in adults with severe obesity, independent of how much exercise they perform, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health-led study ...

Sedentary behavior linked to heart risk in Hispanics

September 28, 2015
Spending a lot of time being sedentary appears to be risky for Hispanics' heart health, even when they get regular exercise, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Each hour of sedentary time is associated with a 22 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes

February 2, 2016
Each extra hour of daily sedentary time (for example spent sitting at a computer) is associated with a 22% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the ...

Children aren't active enough in winter, say researchers

February 23, 2016
Children should be given more support to enable them to be more active during the winter, particularly at weekends, say researchers from the University of Cambridge. Their call comes in response to their findings that children ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.