Solving the Five Minute Mystery

What makes a workout a workout? The definition of a ‘workout’ for most personal trainers is performing a routine set of exercises whether they are weight training, cardio, aerobic or otherwise for a determined length of time while sustaining at minimum 60% of the max heart rate.

So if that’s the definition of a workout, how can anyone do a real workout in five minutes? The same way you perform physical activity all day long. Housecleaning is exercise, walking from the car to the mall is exercise, walking around the mall is exercise, taking the dog out for a walk is exercise and if you’re a person who takes the stairs instead of the elevator. There’s exercise too.

Combined, all of this activity can burn anywhere between 250 and 750 calories just from doing normal daily activities. The average sedentary person doing absolutely nothing burns about 100 calories an hour.

Five-minute workouts take advantage of all of the above and combine to spread your workout over the day. Here’s how it works:

How do they find the time?

You’re crunched for time. You have to get up, shower, dress and get the kiddos off to school. If you’re like most people you are in a hurry from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning. So you’re first set of five minute exercises start in bed. That’s right, in bed.


Spend five minutes just stretching yourself out. Start with your extremities, one at a time. Point your toes and elongate your legs. Extend your hands upwards over your head and outwards to your sides. Indulge yourself in a long, thorough stretch. As you start to sit up, stretch out your back and roll your neck around. Give each stretch a good ten to fifteen second hold and then repeat it.

By the time your feet touch the floor, do one last stretch and you’ll be primed to start the day. Stretching allows your muscles to loosen from a night of inactivity and sleeping posture. You’ve warmed them up and you’re ready for the day.

If you stand in the kitchen while you make coffee, you can do calf raises. If you’re wearing heels, slip out of them or if you’re not in comfortable shoes try it in socks. Start the coffee brewing and using the counter for balance merely rise up on your toes and back down again. Repeat for a count of ten to fifteen and then pause for thirty seconds and repeat with a second set.

If you want to make it a bit harder and have a step handy, perform the rise up and down with your heels angled slightly over the step so you can drop them down on the down swing of the raise. This exercise strengthens the calf muscle, adding definition and also helps to stretch the hamstrings in the back of the legs. By the time you’ve done two sets, your coffee is ready and you’re off to the races.

Workouts don’t always have to be sweaty and in the gym. Nor do they need to be dressed up in running shoes and spandex. Despite the fast food, high speed and super highway world we live in, our bodies are intensely physical. The more physical activity they get, the better we feel. Because time is subjective and immaterial, it can seem hard to ‘make’ time available. So don’t ‘wait’ around for the day when you will ‘have’ time. That time is here – because you definitely have five minutes.

Tips To Make It Work

· Carry a pair of comfortable walking/running shoes in the car. Your legs will appreciate it if you end up stopping at a dozen places or need to do a quick ‘run’ around the mall.

· Power shop at the grocery store the next time you need to pick up only three or four items. Get your heart rate up and then time yourself, the more places you have to go in the grocery store the better.

· Park further away from entrances. Yes, everyone says it, but it’s true. The further out you park, the more steps you add into your day. When you’re out with the kids and you’re juggling fifty things, it’s harder – so do it when you can and add another five minutes.

· Don’t use the drive through at any place. Get out of the car and walk inside. Stretch a bit once you’re in there and alleviate the stress on your spine.

· If you eat lunch in your office everyday, then take a five minute shorter lunch and get up for a walk around, leg raises, or even bicep curls with three hole punch. (Some of those things weigh at least a pound.)

· If you’re still sitting here reading this, sit back in the chair until your posture is straight and lift your feet so that they are pointing straight, then lower them back to the ground. Keep your thighs steady. Repeat this ten times. The leg raises can help stretch out calf muscles, work the quads and relieve stress on your back from sitting.

· Believe it or not, you can do a sixty minute workout spread over a series of five minutes in the day. The important part is to warm up the muscles and encourage the need for more oxygen to reach them. Your legs are the largest muscle group and require the most amount of oxygen to be exercised. Getting your heart rate up all day can keep your metabolism running high and promote better digestion.

· Be creative. Exercise is exercise. The more you get, the better you will feel. Five minutes really is better than nothing at all.

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.