Do 5-minute exercises work? What you need to know about short workouts

Click to play video: 'Just one session of these exercises will show results'
Just one session of these exercises will show results
WATCH: How to work out in short periods of time. – Aug 4, 2018

If you’re strapped for time but really want to fit in a workout, some experts say doing something is better than doing nothing.

A five-minute workout that has results almost seems too good to be true, but personal trainer Amanda Thebe of Toronto said it can be worth it.

“If you only have five minutes in your day to workout, then you’d better make sure that five minutes counts,” she told Global News. “Personally, I coach my clients to do these types of workouts at the end of their strength session, usually known as finishers, which is like the icing on the cake.”

READ MORE: Best exercises for women by age — What to focus on in your 30s, 40s and beyond

A 2013 study from the University of Utah found that even “brief episodes” of intense physical activity could be just as effective as working out for 10 minutes or longer.

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“What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration,” said Jessie X. Fan, professor of family and consumer studies at the university, in a statement.

WATCH: Shorter workouts mean better results, UBCO study shows

“This new understanding is important because fewer than five per cent of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week, according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of ‘brisk’ activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health.”

READ MORE: Long walks are a good form of exercise — but it’s not always enough

Healthline notes another study published in the journal Obesity found people who split up their workouts in shorter chunks had more control of their appetite during the day.

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“One set of obese participants did one hour of exercise each day while another set did 12 sessions of five-minute workouts. In the end, both groups had similar amounts of the protein that controls appetite in their blood,” the site notes.

Fitting a workout in five minutes

But a five-minute workout shouldn’t be a leisurely one, either.

“If you want to get a bang for your buck in a five-minute window, then you need to work at high intensity with a challenging weight, avoid too much resting and perform multi-joint full body exercises,” Thebe said.

READ MORE: Best exercises for men by age — What to focus on in your 30s, 40s and beyond

She recommends working with barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells or sandbags. “Using a weight is going to garner you more results. Pick two or three exercises and perform 10 to 12 reps of each or set the timer for 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest.”

Ideal exercises can include goblet squats, lateral lunges, single leg dead-lifts, plank with shoulder taps, power cleans, high pulls, push-ups and chin-ups.

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“Shorter workouts allow you to work more intensely, so you will be challenging your cardiovascular system at a higher level. This is so good for overall conditioning and burning those extra calories.”

You can even try five-minute cardio sessions that include split jacks, reverse lunges, planks and hand taps, Women’s Health magazine reports.

And to see if your workout is actually working, you need to be sweating.

“If you didn’t break a sweat and aren’t having a hard time catching your breath at the end, you need to up the intensity next time,” Lauren Stobbie, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, told the magazine. “This helps you burn more calories and stresses muscles enough to trigger strength gains.”

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