Woman running up stairs for exercise

Is a five minute workout actually effective?

Absolutely! But before I tell you about it, you have to promise do something: throw out the idea that your “workout” has to be long, hard, and sweaty.

Now that you’ve thrown out the idea of the long-hard-sweaty workout, what’s left?

Research has shown that multiple, short bursts of exercise are just as effective as one long workout. In fact, these small bursts can be even more so, since most of us can find five minutes to exercise on days we might otherwise not have time for it. Take a moment and consider all the spare few minutes you have here and there in your day.

Life has certain demands like grocery shopping, housework, walking the dog. Life also has certain pleasures – cooking, watching TV, or getting down and playing with the grandkids. Let’s take advantage of them. You might have heard about how we should all aim to take 10,000 steps every day. Walking the dog for five minutes can get you a lot of those steps.

Short workout mean creative workouts

Your five-minute workout is only limited by your imagination. It works best when you combine it with some aspect of your daily life that you’re already doing anyway. Can five minutes of evening TV time be used to stretch your muscles or do some core-strengthening planks? Probably! I’ve had clients tell me they’re getting their squats, lunges, and push ups done while on hour-long conference calls.

If you want to make a short workout harder, and maybe get a little sweaty, consider using high-intensity interval training. The interval concept is perfect for when we only have a few minutes to sneak in a session.

Here’s how it works: Pick an exercise, do it as hard or as heavy as you can for a short time (15 to 30 seconds), and then rest for the same period of time (or as long as needed) before doing it again. You’ll be glad when that five minutes is up! And if you aren’t relieved about it, you can probably go a bit harder next time. Sometimes it takes a few cracks to really figure out what “high intensity” really feels like. (As an added bonus, interval training is much more effective than traditional “cardio” training for weight loss, fat burning, and building stamina.)

We are surrounded by opportunities to move more, stay active, and feel better every single day. Sometimes it takes some brainstorming to figure out how to use them. You can get creative on your own, or if you want some help to find your five minutes, check out HealthFit’s Healthy Habit Coaching. A few sessions will give you strategies to get around the challenges that life throws at you, and you’ll discover how five minutes really can make you fitter and stronger.

What do you think?