It reduces your risk of developing diabetes (for physical exercise lowers blood sugar, during and after the physical activity itself); it boosts your basal metabolic rate, therefore making it easier to lose weight; it improves your mood and concentration abilities. It’s not magic. It’s floor exercise gymnastics. No special equipment, no machinery, no weights and no elastic bands. Only running on the spot, push-ups and squat. The good news is that 10-15 minutes a day are enough, provided that you exercise five times a week. Going to the gym and to the swimming pool, where physical proximity with other people is inevitable, is still problematic in this Covid pandemic, hence the possibility of exercising at home is becoming increasingly appealing. All you need is a workout mat.
That’s the thesis of a research published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, conducted by kinesiology experts – who study human movements – of MtcMaster University in Canada. The research completely reassesses this whole set of exercises, including in terms of cardiovascular training.

The adopted programme is known as “5BX”, namely the “Five basic exercises”, developed in 1950 by Dr Bill Orban for Royal Canadian Air Force troops assigned to remote bases. It involves two minutes of stretching, to flex and stretch your muscles, one minute of sit-ups for the abdominal muscles, one minute of back extension and one minute of push-ups to strengthen arms, chest and shoulders. The final exercise is running on the spot, to be performed for six minutes, raising your knees as much as you can: plus, every 75 steps, you should jump ten times, raising your arms above your head, very quickly. Overall, it’s an 11-minute training programme, which however was thought up for men. Non-athletes, women and anyone out of shape should pause and “actively recover” between the different exercises, possibly with donkey kicks and leg extensions, even lying down, and by rotating arms, shoulders and neck.

However, the strengthening of the cardiovascular system depends not only on the exercises described above, but mainly on the pace of the exercises: a quick pace and short recovery breaks entail both aerobic and anaerobic activity. It is best to start off gradually: you might want to begin with ten hops on the spot, which can become 20 after a week and 30 after two weeks. But it should all go hand in hand with your physical shape and build (especially if you’re overweight). And your musculoskeletal system must be in a good state too.

According to the authors of the study this training programme has no setbacks. However, it is best to undergo a medical check-up and – if you have heart-related issues – you should get an ECG, especially if you haven’ exercised in a while. Several programmes similar to this one can be found online, but we recommend you seek your GP’s advice first.