The term “weekend warrior” can draw visuals of your typically lazy co-worker who attends the occasional Saturday pilates class, but with statistics showing that Americans are working an average of 150 hours more per year than they did in the ‘50s, is it any wonder we’ve had to relegate our fitness to a few precious moments during our weekends?

A weekend warrior is defined as someone who crams the recommended two and a half hours of exercise per week into just two days of their schedule, often with physically taxing activities such as running or pick-up sports. It’s no secret that time spent working out has fallen by the wayside for many Americans, but a recent study found that most of us only commit to an average of 17 minutes of exercise per day (but an estimated 10 hours of screen time—yikes). So is it better to try and play catch-up when it comes to exercise, or are your efforts causing more harm than good?

Perils of Combat

Increased risk of injury is the largest downside for going hard on weekends only. The usual suspects like sprains and strains are most common for the weekend warrior because their bodies aren’t accustomed to that kind of stress. By the time their injuries heal, they’re setting themselves up for another weekend of acute pain. Some researchers have chalked the injury cycle up to something other than weak muscles, though, and say that inexperience in the chosen sport matched with simple fatigue accounts for most of the weekend warrior’s injuries.

Warrior Pride

But it’s not all bad. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that just one or two workout sessions per week were enough to reduce all-cause mortality among participants who had no major risk factors. If you’re able to squeeze in short bursts of exercise each day, researchers for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology say you’re doing even better. In this study, just five to 10 minutes of daily running cut back on participants’ risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease, with authors concluding that vigorous exercise for this short period of time generated similar (if not greater) health benefits than 15 to 20 minutes of moderate exercise.

Winning the Battle

Use these tips to stay safe in your weekend endeavours.

1. Space out your activity days, if possible. Avoid going all out on back to back days to allow your body to properly rest between workouts and accustom your endurance levels.

2. Add just a little during the week. Cut back on muscle soreness by committing to a weekly 10-minute run and a softball game with friends.

3. Curb your enthusiasm. You don’t need to be a hero—keep your hiking kilometers realistic, and maybe pass on signing up for that marathon.

Chelsea Clarke
Chelsea is a Toronto-based editor and writer, penning everything from investigative reports to inspiring profiles. She’s the current Associate Editor of Strategy Magazine.