5 Minute Fitness

One of the things James Altucher advocates as a means of becoming a better person is The Daily Practice: a discipline you impose on yourself to address 4 areas of life every single day: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional.

I know from experience how hard it is to change from a sedentary to an active lifestyle. I started many “get-in-shape” goals with grand plans only to see those plans crash on the rocks of reality and every day life. I wanted this time to be different. So I reviewed my list of “daily goals” and threw out anything that I didn’t know I could do every single day. It sounds great to commit to an hour or 30 minutes of exercise every day, but that is a radical lifestyle change. I knew I wouldn’t stick with it.

Something Altucher said about meditation resonated with me here. In addressing people’s questions about meditation, he told them, “if you can’t meditate for an hour, then do 30 minutes. If not 30 minutes, then do 15. If not 15, then 10. If not 10, then do five. Anyone can sit and be silent for five minutes.”

That did it. I knew I could do almost anything for five minutes a day. So I committed to myself that I would exercise for 5 minutes every day. I started this practice on December 28.

There’ve been many nights the last three weeks when I was ready for bed but hadn’t done my exercise. Now if my plan was to exercise 30 minutes every day, and I was ready for bed, it would be so easy to put it off; 30 minutes is a big commitment when you are tired. But since my commitment was only five minutes, I’ve been able to keep that promise to myself. Rather than crawling into bed without exercising that day, I will do five minutes of something – crunches, squats, shoulder or tricep work, stretching, planks – something or anything – for five minutes. And I always am so satisfied when I get done.

So — why do I write about this?

Because it is working. I have objective proof that I am getting stronger, fitter and better with only 5 minutes of exercise a day. Here’s an example:

For most of my life, I loved playing basketball even more than eating. But about 10 years ago I had to quit because the pain in my knees exceeded the pleasure in my heart from playing. Ten Years. This past Wednesday night, after working out only 5 minutes a day for 3 weeks, I played my first competitive game of basketball in more than 10 years. And I played well. And I woke up Thursday morning without pain.

I know I won’t see any radical body changes in a short time from such a small amount of exercise, but I want you to know that I have more energy, I feel better, my mood is better and I am getting fitter. Maybe not fast, but this is working.

Five minutes. You can do it too.

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