Does it matter how often you work out?

Have you skipped your gym session today?  Don’t stress!

New research published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, shows that it doesn’t matter how frequently you work out, as long as you get at least a total of 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

The researchers analysed a nationally representative sample of 2,324 active Canadian adults who participated in the Canadian Health Measures Survey.Everyone in the study did at least 150 minutes of moderately intense to vigorous activity per week, but some people broke it up into five to seven weekly sessions, while others worked out one to four times a week.Both groups’ risk of health conditions like metabolic syndrome, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood fats and cholesterol, and high blood sugar were about the same.They found that the total amount, type, and intensity of activity all have a much greater affect on your body than frequency says study author Ian Janssen, PhD, associate professor at the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University in Canada.

So does this mean you can just work out for two and a half hours and then call it a day for the rest of the week? Not quite.

The researchers didn’t look at the one-day-a-week option specifically (just one-to-four days, and five-to-seven), so it’s a stretch to say that you can work out just once and see the same health benefits as hitting the gym daily.

Also, while fewer, longer gym sessions might lower your cardiovascular risk factors, they won’t necessarily help you meet your fitness goals, like training for a big race or losing weight.

The bottom line: If you can’t squeeze in regular workouts, it’s OK to do two or three longer workouts each week—but exercising more frequently for shorter periods is still the ideal.