If you’re like most people, finding the time for exercise can be as challenging as the exercise itself. But you don’t have to carve an hour out of your schedule—a five-minute workout one or more times per day can lead to noticeable improvements in your physical strength and cardiovascular fitness. 

You don’t need fancy equipment. These very basic and well-known moves will work all the major muscle groups…

1. Do a one-minute warm-up. You can jog in place or do jumping jacks to increase your heart rate and blood flow, raise your body temperature and improve your muscle elasticity. This will prepare your body for more vigorous exercise.

2. Do 30 seconds of squats. From a standing start, bend your knees, as if you’re about to sit on an imaginary chair. Do not go any lower than a 90-degree angle where your thighs are parallel with the floor and your heels are down. Then return to a full standing posture. Hold your arms out in front of you for balance as needed. Repeat as many times as possible. Beginner strategy: If you can’t do deep squats, do more shallow squats—lower your body only a few inches. Then increase this depth as the days pass and you get stronger.

3. Do 30 seconds of push-ups. You probably already know how to do push-ups—with your hands positioned slightly more than shoulder width apart. Beware of pitfalls: Keep your body straight, butt in line, and your neck in a neutral position. Repeat this exercise as many times as possible in 30 seconds. Beginner strategy: If you are not yet strong enough for a traditional push-up, do “knee push-ups,” where your knees are on the ground instead of your toes. 

4. Do a 30-second plank. Position yourself in the push-up position—body perfectly straight, supported by your toes and hands with arms extended, hands below your shoulders. Contract your abs, and hold this position for 30 seconds. Beginner strategy: Support yourself on your toes and forearms rather than on your toes and hands…and/or try to hold the plank for less than 30 seconds.

5. Repeat steps two through four. Perform a second round of the three ­exercises above. 

6. Do a one-minute cool-down. Jog in place for 30 seconds, then do 30 seconds of stretches. Stretch your quads by holding one foot up behind your backside for a few seconds (grasp a chair for balance if necessary), then repeat with the other foot. Stretch your shoulders by grasping your right elbow with your left hand and pulling your right arm across your body (keep your right shoulder down), then repeat on the left arm. If any other parts of your body feel tight, go ahead and stretch those, too.

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