If you’re running out of time to exercise today, you should probably just skip it, right? Wrong! You can reap the benefits of working out with sweat sessions as short as five minutes. You read that correctly: five minutes. Still skeptical? Keep reading to learn more about how micro-workouts can boost your health and strengthen your body.
Do 5-minute workouts help?
It’s possible you’ve never considered working out for only five minutes. It doesn’t sound like enough time to make a difference. After all, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says that aerobic activity lasting longer than 10 minutes in duration counts toward the 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise you should aim to get each week. But that doesn’t mean shorter, high-intensity exercises can’t help.
Benefits of regular exercise include everything from losing weight to getting better sleep to increasing energy levels. Keeping fit can also help tremendously with your self-confidence. So, shouldn’t anything count toward this goal? Well, researchers are discovering that even exercise sessions as sort as a minute may help you keep fit and active.
What the science says
A study from the University of Utah shows that all those little bits and pieces of exercise you do throughout the day can add up to something big. In fact, even a single “brisk” minute of moving can have a noticeable impact.
Women who incorporated short bursts of high-intensity activities into everyday life had a small decrease in their body mass index (BMI), compared to control subjects. Men had similar results. The calorie burn during this short but intense session of exercise allowed the women to weigh about 1/2 pound less than their nonactive counterparts. Odds of obesity also went down for both men and women who did these quickie workouts. The key is kicking up the intensity level of whatever you’re doing, versus focusing solely on the length of time.
Another study published in Obesity revealed that splitting exercise up into short chunks makes some sense when it comes to appetite control. One set of obese participants did one hour of exercise each day while another set did 12 sessions of five-minute workouts. In the end, both groups had similar amounts of the protein that controls appetite in their blood.
The group that did the short workouts, though, said they felt an average of 32 percent fuller throughout the daytime hours. In other words, their satiety had increased by doing intermittent workouts of just five minutes in length.
You also may have heard of something called Tabata training. A Tabata workout is actually a four-minute high-intensity interval training workout that is made up of 20 seconds of hard effort and 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. The name comes from the author of a study on interval training that was published in 1996. The results of this study showed that short interval sessions greatly improved the body’s anaerobic and aerobic systems.
Fitting exercise into your routine
This all sounds good, but you may feel like finding even five minutes to exercise is impossible with your busy schedule. Or maybe when you finally do get some down time, you just want to rest. Nobody says staying fit is easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible either.
Tips to find time
- Use TV commercial breaks to your advantage. You can get up and do jumping jacks or get down and do pushups before your television show resumes.
- Try the nano workout method by exercising while you do daily tasks like brushing your teeth. Instead of just standing there, do a few calf raises.
- Set a reminder on your phone to motivate you to exercise throughout the day. You could close your office door to do yoga or take a short walk as a work break.
- Walk to complete errands instead of driving. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from the store.
Keep it consistent for the best results. After a while, you may tweak your routine just enough that more movement naturally fits into your day.
Short workouts to try
You don’t need a gym membership to work up a sweat, either. In fact, the logistics of getting to the gym, getting changed, and finally working out may kill time and your motivation. When you feel inspired to move, try searching for quickie workouts that you can find for free on YouTube.
- Work your core with XHIT’s 5 Minute Abs routine. You’ll complete a series of five exercises that are each one-minute long. Prepare to become an expert at straight-edged planks, hip thrusts, oblique crunches, side planks, and full situps.
- Work your favorite asset with this 5-minute Butt and Thigh Workout by Fitness Blender. You’ll do a variety of squats using the pattern of 40 seconds on with five seconds of rest. These moves will help lift, tone, and strengthen your bottom half so you’ll look better in your jeans and have more power for your daily activities.
- POPSUGAR Fitness shares this 5-Minute Fat-Blasting Bodyweight Workout video for those of you who need an all-over burn. You’ll start with jumping jacks and sprint intervals. Then you’ll move on to pike jumps, scissor jacks, and jumping lunges and squats.
- This 4-minute Tabata workout by Rebekah Borucki has been viewed over 2 million times. It’s part of her series titled “You have four minutes” — and it’s killer. Each exercise in the workout is performed twice, each for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. She suggests doing it as a warmup to a longer routine or as a start to your morning.
Not near a computer? Set your watch or phone for a five-minute alarm and try doing as many bodyweight exercises as you can fit in. You can do pushups, situps, planks, squats, jumps, lunges, jogging in place, or whatever else. Just stick to it and try to get to the highest intensity level possible. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water when you’re done!
Takeaway: Get moving
Yes. Just five minutes of exercise at a time may be beneficial to your health in many ways. If you’re still not sure it’s enough, try doing one of the workouts in the section above. When you finally catch your breath, ask yourself again if five minutes can get your heart pumping. And, really, doing something is usually better than doing nothing, so get moving!