Live Longer by Doing One Thing For Just 5 Minutes a Day

The Aug. 5, 2014 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology included a study which revealed that 5 minutes of exercise is enough to make a difference. Just 5 minutes counts.  Exercise can reduce the risk of death1 by 30%, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 45%, and add three years to your life.

But “there’s not necessarily something magical about running, per se,” Dr. Timothy Church, a professor at the Pennington Institute,  said. “Instead, it’s likely that exercise intensity is the key to improving longevity, he said, adding, “Running just happens to be the most convenient way for most people to exercise intensely.”

Forget the recommendation of exercising 150 minutes a week. Things would be great if we could do 30 minutes a day 5 times a week, but in reality, we don’t.

Who can say that they don’t have 5 minutes to spare? Even if we count the time it takes to change into some shorts, a t-shirt and running shoes, we all have 10 minutes to make our lives better.

If you’re like me and not a runner, an article from the Montreal Gazette shared a simple plan to get started. You can find the original article “Fitness: Even five minutes of exercise can be enough”  on the Montreal Gazette website. Here is the running plan boiled down for us. As we start, it will take longer than 5 minutes a day, but only about 15 minutes.

5 Minutes a Day Running Plan





1 & 2 30 seconds 60 seconds 10 times
3 & 4 45 seconds 60 seconds 8 times
5 & 6 60 seconds 60 seconds 5 times
7 & 8 75 seconds 60 seconds 4 times
9 & 10 90 seconds 60 seconds 3 times*
11 & 12 105 seconds 60 seconds 3 times*

*The math becomes a little uneven, the goal is to make sure you run for the full five minutes.

The article suggests to increase running by 15 seconds every two weeks, running for a total of 5 minutes with walking intervals. Listen to your body. If we are ready for five minutes of running, let’s do it.  If we need to, well just continue to increase our running by 15 seconds every two weeks until we reach 5 minutes of running.

Do this daily.

Figure out what time is best for you. Is it better to go for a run first thing in the morning before you dive into your day? Should we run after you get home? It could be a good transition between our day job and family life. Can we include the dog, kids, spouse or friends? Maybe it’s better in the evening, after we’ve had family time, but before we start winding down for bed.  Already have a gym or workout routine? Maybe we intentionally avoid cardio, with this knowledge we might be ready to add 5 minutes of running. Just 5 minutes.

If we do this one thing for ourselves we’ll improve many elements of life. There’s an extra bonus too. The next time we’re digging a garden in the yard we won’t pay in sore muscles for days afterward. When we’re invited to go hiking with friends, you won’t have to make some excuse to avoid the intense exercise. We’ll go and have a great time, confident in our new energy.

There is no reason not to give this a try. Maybe in a couple months you’ll find that you want to run for fun. Maybe we’ll hear about some holiday 5K for charity and create a team with friends. We’ll challenge ourselves to go even farther than five minutes will take us. Running may open up a whole new world for us, try it for five minutes a day for two weeks and see what differences you notice.

Are you willing to give it a try? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter.

1 Death in the study is referring to all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality by age group is the annual number of deaths in a given age group per the population in that age group (usually expressed per 100,000). From Yahoo Answers.