'CLICKBAIT!' I hear you shout, with great enthusiasm. But I'm actually being serious. I don't mean one lot of five minutes of course, I mean over a sustained period of time. Nevertheless, the commitment you need on any one occasion is just five minutes. So, how does one get fit in 5 minutes?
Is 5 minutes enough?
In short, yes. Most people are under the impression that they need to work out for an hour for it to count. Some people have whittled this down to 20 or 30 minutes but they would still struggle to see five minutes as adequate workout time.
Here's the thing: one of the most effective interval training protocols for increasing cardiovascular fitness is only four minutes long. This is called Tabata, perhaps you've heard of it? If not, the idea is 20 seconds of all-out 100% intensity, followed by 10 seconds rest, repeated 8 times. It was developed by a Japanese researcher, Dr Izumi Tabata, and originally it was based on static bikes but can be done with any movement.
My point here is not that you must do Tabata, in fact the intensity isn't suitable for a lot of people. The point I'm making is that if this type of training is only four minutes long, then five minutes must be enough time to make a workout worthwhile.
Why 5 minutes is better!
Anyone who follows my work will know that I'm a big critic of the 'all-or-nothing' rubbish which is rife in the health and fitness industry. Go hard or go home, never miss a Monday, no pain no gain. All of it can do one as far as I'm concerned. I would much rather see you sustain something long term than to smash it for 12 weeks, only to end up back where you started.
Five minutes is much more sustainable, which you may think is obvious. If you do a 5-minute workout every day for the rest of your life you will see improvements. Your energy will improve, your mental health will improve, you will get fitter, stronger, your bone and joint health will improve, your heart and lungs will get stronger, you will have less chance of developing chronic illnesses...the list goes on.
If you sustain a simple new habit like a 5-minute workout you will find that other habits start to come in as a knock-on effect. Success breeds success. If you set yourself up with a less sustainable habit change you may find yourself in a negative frame of mind when you slip off track.
Remember, this is all about developing a lifestyle which you as a parent can sustain!
Read more: Why I Wrote Family Fit
How to get fit in 5 minutes
This is the best part, because you can literally do ANYTHING! Getting fit in 5 minutes can be tailored to whatever you enjoy.
How about a 5-minute walk round the park? Or five minutes of skipping? Or a full-body circuit you can do in your lounge during an ad break? What about dancing like a maniac to five minutes of your favourite music?
The options really are endless. My recommendation, in fact, is to mix it up. Do different things on different days, whatever you feel like! Personally I go into my garage where I've got a few bits of exercise equipment, nothing fancy, and spend five minutes throwing stuff around. If this is your cup of tea and you want to get some equipment, I recommend starting with a kettlebell or a set of dumbells. Very versatile, easy to get hold of online or in shops, and not too expensive.
If you don't want to use any equipment, just use your own bodyweight. A circuit comprised of squats, press ups, sit ups, burpees, lunges and twists can hit most of your major muscle groups and get your heart and lungs working hard! Thirty seconds on each of those six and you're only looking at three minutes total. Boom.
Read more: Full-Body Workout
When to get fit in 5 minutes
This is another biggie in terms of personalisation. You must put this new 5-minute routine into the right time of day for YOU, but having said that I do have a recommendation if you're looking for one...
First thing in the morning will change your life. Dramatic? Maybe. But try it and see. The benefits of physical activity first thing in the morning are well-documented:
- Working out will boost your metabolism, which is how your body releases energy from the food you eat and from stored energy such as glycogen or body fat. This increase in metabolism means more energy for hours after you exercise!
- Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which make you feel damn good! They also increase your productivity, so getting physically active in the morning means better mood and getting more done throughout the day.
- Getting active early in the day will help you make healthier choices through the rest of the day. This is a combination of the endorphins already mentioned, and good old-fashioned pride in yourself.
- Working out is a stimulant, as we've already established it will boost your energy and productivity. If you exercise late at night you are likely to find it tough to get to sleep. Exercise early in the day and you'll sleep much better.
- Most people will have less conflicts in the morning, later in the day will usually see more going on such as work, kids' clubs, cooking dinner etc.
- Our bodies love routine, starting your day with exercise will help you stay consistent.
Don't buy into the all-or-nothing, hour or more at a time or don't bother, unsustainable rubbish. You can get fit in 5 minutes!
Pick a time of day, pick what you're gonna do, and get going! If you miss a day here and there don't worry, it's not all-or-nothing remember? Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel up to it one day, or if it just doesn't happen, just remember that tomorrow is another chance to tick it off!
Stay positive, stay focused, and let's make some changes.
Oh, and if you found this useful then you can buy my book here: Family Fit