High School Biology and Chemistry TSS

How Effective Are 5-Minute Workouts?

5 minutes seem too short of a time to get some quality exercise in, doesn’t it? Well, science says otherwise.

In today’s world where there seems to be a lack of time—where everything is going fast and everyone is busy—long sessions of physical activity don’t seem to fit in most people’s schedules anymore. Thus, you may have heard of people turning to “5-minute workouts” or any other form of short bursts of physical activity. But just how effective are they? 5 minutes seem too short of a time to get some quality exercise in, doesn’t it? Well, science says otherwise.

Science has shown that quick 1-minute bursts of intense exercise within a 10-minute routine could potentially lower your blood sugar and improve cardiometabolic health just as effectively as a 50-minute workout [1]. Moreover, in another study published in Obesity, one set of obese participants exercised for 1 hour while the other set did 12 sessions of 5-minute workouts. At the end of the study, it was revealed that both groups had similar amounts of the protein that controls appetite in their blood [2]. So, in a sense, quick bursts of intense exercise can actually be as effective as longer, drawn-out sessions of physical activity.

Furthermore, for those who think 5-minute workouts don’t provide for enough time to get some good exercise in, studies and experts show otherwise. Any kind of physical exercise, even if it’s just a brisk 1-minute walk, is better than no exercise. Michael Joyner, M.D., an exercise researcher at the Mayo Clinic, says that “A 5-to-10 minute workout, if done consistently, coupled with building as much cardio into your daily life by doing things like walking the dog and taking the stairs every chance you get, can all add up to get you in shape.” [1]. Additionally, a study performed at the University of Utah revealed that small bursts of exercise can add up to something big in the end. During the study, women and men who incorporated short bursts of high-intensity activities into their schedule had a small decrease in their body mass index (BMI) compared to their inactive control subjects [2].

While short workouts can be beneficial to your physical health, there are different strategies for incorporating these mini workouts into your schedule, depending on your goals. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, it’s recommended that you add a mini-burn at the end of your normal elliptical or treadmill workout to increase the number of calories you’re burning. And if your goal is to gain muscle, you should add the mini workout to the end of your strength-training and focus on the same muscle groups you were working [3].

In the end, it’s safe to say that any kind of exercise, even short 5-minute workouts, is effective and good for your physical health. After all, a mere 5 calories burned is better than none. And if you’re still stuck between long or short workouts? You can try both. Short and long workouts do work best together, as professor of exercise science and health promotion, Glenn Gaesser, suggests “mixing it up” [1].


  1. Manning-Schaffel, Vivian. “Do 5-Minute Workouts Really Work?” com, NBCUniversal News Group, 30 July 2018, http://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/do-5-minute-workouts-really-work-ncna895751.
  2. Marcin, Ashley. “Are 5-Minute Daily Workout Routines Really Beneficial?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 27 Feb. 2017, http://www.healthline.com/health/5-minute-daily-workout-routines-really-beneficial#2.
  3. Migala, Jessica. “Just How Effective Are 5- and 10-Minute Workouts?” Women’s Health, Women’s Health, 25 May 2018, http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19997348/10-minute-workouts/.

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