Previous studies have suggested that higher-income individuals tend to be more physically fit and active. It has been theorized that their higher disposable income allows them to invest in fitness club and gym membership, and they tend to be more knowledgeable about fitness-related issues. What’s more, their income provides for more leisure time in which to exercise.
But according to this study on income, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and the weekend warrior, all that activity may take place around the weekend, with most of their weekdays spent in pursuit of leisure and sedentary activities rather than exercise.
The study, led by the American Cancer Society, analyzed data from more than 5,200 U.S. adults, using information collected in The National Health and Examination Survey from 2003 to 2006. Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the American Cancer Society, and Georgia State University examined activity patterns among adults of various income levels.
On average, those of higher income levels (above $75,000 per year) spent an average of 4.6 minutes more in exercise per day than those of lower income levels (below $20,000 per year). However, despite their increased activity, they tended to engage in most of that activity on the weekend. In fact, they were 1.6 times more likely to be weekend warriors (exercising primarily on Saturday and Sunday) than low-income adults.
Those weren’t the only differing results. High-income adults also spent 9.3 minutes less per day engaged in a light activity (walking or cleaning, for example), and spend an average of 11.8 minutes more per day engaged in a sedentary activity (watching TV, reading a book, etc.).
Simply put: higher-income individuals tend to spend their weekdays relaxing and their weekends getting exercise.
That doesn’t mean they didn’t meet the guidelines for exercise. In fact, they were 1.9 times more likely to meet the guidelines for physical activity over the course of a week than low-income individuals. According to the study’s lead author, “To meet guidelines one can engage in 150 minutes of weekly moderate intensity activity over a two or three-day period rather than seven days, for example.”
The researcher went on to say that “this can be achieved over a long weekend, a message we may want to convey to those pressed for time.” The fact that you get all your exercise over the weekend doesn’t negate the benefits of exercise—on the contrary, getting those 150 minutes of exercise in two days is as good for your health as spreading them out over four or six days.
1. Kerem Shuval, Qing Li, Kelley Pettee Gabriel, Rusty Tchernis. “Income, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and the ‘weekend warrior’ among U.S. adults.” Preventive Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.07.033.