People who exercise sporadically might be reaping the same health benefits as those who hit the gym routinely, a new study found. These less frequent bouts of physical activity might allow busier people to remain healthy without significantly changing their lifestyle, effectively changing the way exercise is thought about.

The study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed the responses of more than 63,000 people to a government conducted survey in the U.K. that asked about their habits. The results, culled from 1994 to 2012, were then matched against death records from health departments.

Researchers at England’s Loughborough University, who conducted the study, found that the risk of death from all causes was 30 percent lower for those who exercised infrequently when compared with those who remained sedentary. Additionally, death rates for so-called “weekend warriors” were relatively similar to those who said they exercised more than two days a week for shorter periods of time.

Infrequent exercisers also had an 18 percent lower cancer risk and 40 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than non-exercisers.

“Together these findings suggest that some physical activity in an isolated session or low activity is certainly better than no activity for reducing mortality risk and that those who exercise one to two times per week may lower their risk even further with more frequent activity,” wrote Hannah Arem, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at George Washington University, in a commentary published alongside the study.

The findings conflict with government recommendations for physical activity. The American Heart Association urges adults to exercise for at least 30 minutes moderately five days per week or at least 25 minutes vigorously three days per week. It also recommends an additional two days of moderate to high-intensity muscle strengthening training.

“I think that the weekend warrior physical activity pattern is beneficial because they are actually doing a large proportion of vigorous intensity activity,” said Gary O’Donovan, a researcher in physical activity and sedentary behavior at England’s Loughborough University and the report’s lead author. “And vigorous activity makes you fit, and fitness reduces your risk of disease and death.”