If at the end of a work week you can think of nothing better than hurtling down a mountain on your bike, clambering up a rock face, or thrashing through some rapids in a kayak, chances are you’re a Weekend Warrior. There are big benefits to getting out in nature and pushing your body to its limits, but it’s also smart to be proactive about your health. That way, you can continue your outdoor adventures for years to come.
Why be a Weekend Warrior?
For anyone tied to a desk or other sedentary workplace during the work week, the weekend offers the perfect (perhaps the only) opportunity to go on a long bike ride or run, head up into the mountains or out on the water, or finally tackle a physically demanding home renovation or gardening project.
These activities can help you meet the recommended minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-strenuous physical activity each week. And outdoor adventures also help mental health and offer an opportunity to socialise and spend time with family.
While there are great things to be said for active weekends, there’s also a worry that being a Weekend Warrior after a sedentary week can increase the risk of joint and muscle strain, pain, and even heart attacks and serious injury.
Is it healthy to be a Weekend Warrior?
It’s true that the risk of injury and muscle strain is higher if you’re generally sedentary and out of shape, and then suddenly you push your limits with intense activity. That said, recent research suggests Weekend Warriors enjoy impressive longevity benefits and a lower likelihood of death from cancer or heart disease compared to individuals who skip exercise entirely. This study categorized people as Weekend Warriors if they “performed the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity from one or two sessions per week.”
Still, to guard against injury and strain, and enjoy better all-round health, it’s best to avoid being generally sedentary with bouts of extreme exercise once a week. This means figuring out ways to incorporate other forms of activity into your work week. If you’re a Weekend Warrior looking to up your game, consider:
- Switching your desk and chair for a treadmill desk or stand-up desk
- Taking the stairs instead of elevators and escalators
- Walking or cycling to work, the grocery store, library, and for other errands
- Going for a family walk or bike ride after dinner, instead of watching a show or playing a board game
- Scheduling outdoor meetings where you and colleagues can stroll through the park
- Doing planks and push-ups with your kids to help condition shoulder and core muscles for weekend climbs or tennis games
- Installing a chin-up bar in your office doorway!
Mixing it up during the week helps build great all-round condition and strength, which will help you avoid overextending a single group of muscles and joints at the weekend.
Other support strategies for Weekend Warriors
In addition to staying moderately active during the week, Weekend Warriors can support their overall health and reduce the risk of injury by adopting the following strategies and healthy habits:
1. Fuelling for fitness
Eating a nutritious diet all week long helps provide your body with the nutrients it needs to stay strong and active, and to recover quickly after vigorous exercise. On more active days, consider a superfood smoothie with fruits high in antioxidants and lean plant-based protein powder such as Natural Factors Vegan Protein to help build and maintain healthy, happy muscles.
2. Stay hydrated
When you’re pushing your body harder and faster, it can be hard to hydrate. Make things easier with a camelback for quick hydration on the go. And if you’re sweating up a storm, consider adding an electrolyte powder to your water to replace sodium, potassium, magnesium, and other vital minerals. Water-rich fruits and veggies also help, so pack a cooler with some berries, cucumber, peppers, and watermelon slices for a post-paddle picnic.
3. Don’t skimp on gear
If you’re pounding the pavement in running shoes that are in danger of falling apart, it’s time to invest in some new gear. The same goes for safety harnesses when climbing, PFDs for paddle boarding, and brakes, forks, shocks, and seats for your mountain bike. Old, dysfunctional equipment makes injury and accidents far more likely, so stay on top of maintenance.
Before jumping into a half marathon or all-day paddle, warm up your muscles. This helps limber up tendons and muscles, so they aren’t shocked by sudden activity. Just a five- to ten-minute warm-up routine can help minimize your risk of injury. And don’t forget to warm down with a gentle stretch as your heart rate returns to normal.
5. Stretch your limits (but not too far!)
Shooting for an ultra-marathon? Great! Just don’t go from a sedate 5k to a full-on 50k without some lead-up time. Mental preparation is one thing, but your body might need a little longer to build stamina and strength. It’s good to go a little beyond your comfort zone but not so far that your body is in serious pain, so be sure to set realistic training goals and find a well-matched training partner to stay motivated without overextending yourself.
6. Wind it down when you need to
For Weekend Warriors who’ve been at it a while, you might be finding it a bit harder these days to maintain the pace the way you used to. No need to stop doing what you love, just learn to take things a bit slower or keep sessions short. Maybe find someone new to the sport, who you can mentor. This gives you a chance to build in slower, teaching moments that offer a chance for recovery, rather than keeping up with a frenetic pace.
7. RICE and curcumin!
If your muscles are feeling sore, follow the traditional method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). And add a dash of curcumin for extra recovery support. This natural compound, which gives turmeric its bright yellow colour, offers impressive antioxidant support and has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness after intense exercise. You can find it in Muscle Recovery & Growth Optimizer alongside L-glutamine, a key amino acid for cellular repair and muscle recovery after exercise.
8. Give your joints what they need
Active joints need good hydration (see above!), antioxidant support (see above!), and a good supply of glycosaminoglycans including glucosamine and chondroitin. Alongside methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), these glycosaminoglycans help support strong, healthy joint tissue, improving joint lubrication, fighting inflammation, and helping to repair cartilage. For triple joint support, check out MSM Joint Formula.
And finally, consider adding Tea Tree Spray to any Weekend Warrior first-aid kit. Ideal for cuts, scrapes, and minor skin abrasions, this is a must for climbers, paddlers, runners with scraped knees, and anyone else going hard at it when the weekend calls. And (shh!) tea tree is also great for dealing with bacterial and fungal infections, so if you’ve picked up athlete’s foot or your running or climbing shoes are getting a little funky, give your feet and your kit a quick spritz.