What is the minimum amount of exercise needed for health and
fitness? While it depends on the person, lifestyle, and goals,
the general wisdom is that 20-60 minutes per day of cardio
pumping, iron lifting, or muscle stretching is necessary.
While no one could deny that these numbers produce optimal
results, it is possible to accomplish great things in a shorter
The truth is that most badly out-of-shape people have lost a
crucial “body-mind” link, a connection that helps them to feel
the physical hunger for healthy movement. They hate sweating,
don’t like walking, and often confuse thirst or emotional pain
For those of us who have to ease our way back into an exercise
routine, even five minutes a day can be a life saving door into
a healthier world.
Here are the rules:
1) In order to get the most out of this routine, it should be
spread out over the day. We’re suggesting sixty seconds of work
at 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, and 9 pm. This approach is called
“Greasing the Groove” and has an exceptionally powerful effect.
2) Concentrate on the abdominal muscles. They are the most
important group of voluntary muscles in the body, aiding
posture, digestion, and sexual function. Critical to athletic
performance, they transfer power from the lower to the upper
body. When it comes to appearance, the abdominals are called
“the window of health”-we are judged more often by our
belt-lines than any other single physical factor.
3) It is virtually impossible to tone the abdominals without
benefiting other muscle groups.
What exercises are best? I would suggest a tri-pronged
approach: a “killer” exercise, a light exercise, and one that
can be done in public-while walking or driving.
1) A roller wheel. These are available in any sporting goods
store for about five dollars, and are the only ab exercise
devise worth your money. Beginners roll out from their knees,
more experienced exercisers from their toes.
2) Hip lifts. Lay on your back, brace your hands at your sides,
cross your feet, lifting feet and knees from the floor. Now
contract the abdominal muscles and lift the hips from the
floor. Relax and repeat the hip lift for sixty seconds.
3) Power breathing. Contract your abdominal muscles HARD as you
walk or drive. Combined with proper breathing techniques, this
can actually be the perfect ab exercise. There are many yoga,
Tai Chi and martial arts teachers who can teach you proper
breathing technique-if you haven’t had training or studied
this, don’t assume you already know how-seek out a teacher!
While the “Grease the Groove” technique is powerful (and can be
used to develop strength, flexibility, or coordination) it is
not intended to substitute for your longer cardiovascular
workouts. It is offered as an addition, or for those days when
you just can’t exercise, or as a way for the non-exerciser to
begin. Consider it a doorway to a fitter, healthier world.
About The Author: NY Times bestselling author Steven Barnes CST
(Circular Strength Training) is a dual black belt, yogi, and the
creator of the Five Minute Miracle exercise system. Learn more