Think you don’t have time to exercise? Many people think that you need at least 30 minutes to make your exercise session worthwhile, but surprisingly, it’s perfectly possible to give your body a good workout in just a few minutes.
How can I find five spare minutes?
Think about all the times when you’re standing around for a while – waiting for the kettle to boil, during the adverts break on TV, or when you’re waiting on hold at the end of a phone. With a little ingenuity, you could use all those ‘spare’ moments to strengthen and tone your body.
Do I need special equipment?
You don’t need gym equipment, but you can make use of simple household items for impromptu equipment. A couple of cans of beans or two soda bottles can double as hand weights, and of course, every home has stairs and chairs.
What about a warm-up?
You won’t have time for a full warm-up, but begin by doing some gentle stretches and don’t overdo it during your sessions.
How do I structure my workout?
Choose five different activities and do each for one minute. You can either focus on one area of your body for five minutes or mix ‘n’ match activities to work all areas.
Ideas for working your legs
Remember to keep your posture as upright as possible when working your legs and engage your abdominals to keep your core steady
- Sit on a straight-backed chair and practise sitting and standing without using your hands
- Step up onto the bottom stair, first with one foot and then the other. Return to floor level the same way
- Squats – with your feet hip distance apart, bend your knees until you’re in a crouch position then return
- Gentle lunges – lunge forward with one leg, return, and then lunge with the other
- Side shuffle with squat – stand with feet hip distance apart. Shuffle five steps to the right and squat, followed by 5 steps to the left and squat
Ideas for working your arms
You can exercise your arms without equipment, but hand weights will give your muscles an even better workout.
- Bicep curls – stretch your arms out in front of you and clench your fists. Curl your arms alternately so your fist almost touches your shoulder
- Vertical lift – stand with your feet hip distance apart and imagine you are pushing a dumbbell above your head. You can use a mop or broom handle to make your arms work harder
- Pull-up – imagine you are holding a stick with your hands about a meter apart. Pull the stick up vertically from your hips to your shoulders
- Tricep dips – stand with feet hip distance apart with a sturdy dining chair behind you.
Place hands each side of the chair. Move your feet a little distance away and dip your body down and up again so your arms bend. Make sure you use a very stable chair
Ideas for working your abdominals
If you’ve only got a few minutes, these standing abs exercises are ideal.
- Standing crunch – stand with feet hip distance apart and place hands on thighs with little fingers lowest. Imagine pulling your belly button until it touches your spine, hold for a count of five, then slowly release. Breathe normally.
- Double-handed chop – stand with feet slightly wide than hip width. Raise your hands over your head and clasp them together. Swing your hands down between your legs as though you’re chopping wood, bending your knees slightly as you dip, then return to an upright position
- Single-handed chop – hold a light book or food box in one hand. Repeat the previous movement using one hand instead of two. After 30 seconds, swap and use the other hand
Ideas for cardio
There are lots of ways to give yourself a quick five minute cardio session. Choose one activity for five minutes or try different activities for one minute each.
- Running on the spot
- Jumping jacks
- Jumping on the spot or on a trampoline
- Rocket jumps – jump and reach as high into the air as you can
You’ll be amazed at how just a few five minute workouts can make all the difference to your health.