Don't have time to exercise? Just a few minutes a day still has loads of benefits

Just a few minutes of exercise each day, whether running, cycling or HIIT, can still have a ton of benefits

Woman doing yoga
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What's stopping you from doing exercise? Chances are, it's time. With our increasingly busy schedules, it might seem like prioritising exercise becomes tougher every day. however, not only should you be making your health and wellbeing a priority, but it turns out you don't have to exercise for long in order to reap the benefits. 

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology studied how running correlates with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risks in 55,137 adults over 15 years. It turns out that running for a very short amount of time, even just five or ten minutes a day and at slow speeds, is "associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease".

Compared with nonrunners, regular runners were associated with a 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a three-year life expectancy benefit. It's the perfect excuse to lace up your best running shoes for men, or best running shoes for women, and hit the roads.  

Man running and doing exercise in a short amount of time

(Image credit: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash)

This is great news for anyone who considers a very short run, cycle or exercise session to be too brief to be "worth it". Even aerobic exercise for just five or ten minutes can reduce your risk of early death and improve your fitness. However, if you've only got a few minutes, why not make the most of it?

It's not just runners that benefit: high-intensity interval training, known as HIIT, can provide loads of the same cardiovascular weight loss benefits as steady-state aerobic work in a very short amount of time. HIIT has been found by research to significantly increase aerobic and anaerobic fitness, improve resistance to insulin, which can prevent blood sugar spikes, and boost metabolism in a fraction of the time as a lengthy run or cycle ride.

Tabata, a form of HIIT workout which requires you to do 20 seconds of physical exercise, than 10 seconds of rest, allowing you to do eight sets in just four minutes. It's the perfect kind of workout if you're struggling for time. Researchers from the Physiological Society examined ten years' worth of research on HIIT and found participants across all these studies received benefits of HIIT training even if they did the exercises for just four minutes, three times a week. 

Still think you don't have time to train? Check out and follow along with the Tabata workout below:

Watch: This four-minute Tabata workout

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.