This 5-Minute Cardio Workout Will Get Your Blood Pumping

It supports sustainable weight loss, improves circulation and boosts mental health 🙌
HuffPost UK

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If you want to boost your overall health, your fitness routine has to include regular cardiovascular exercise.

A cardio workout has a whole host of benefits, according to Dr Nandini Mathur Collins, senior health coach manager at the digital health company Noom.

These include:

  • Supporting weight loss

  • Decreasing stress and improving mood

  • Benefitting bone density

  • Improving circulation

  • Supporting a healthy metabolism

  • Improving muscle tone and definition

  • Reducing risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol

  • Helping to improve mental health

Ideally, we should be doing cardio exercise every day, which may sound a little daunting. But thankfully you can reap the benefits even with short, five-minute bursts.

Below, Dr Mathur Collins has provided HuffPost UK with a quick cardio workout that can be completed at home, in the gym or in the garden/park. It’s designed to fit into your day, whether you’re squeezing it in after the school run or during a work break.

“This five-minute routine is my favourite since it gives cardiovascular benefits, but it works the entire body and especially helps strengthen the core,” she tells HuffPost UK. “There are plenty of modifications available for all fitness levels. It is important to check with a doctor before starting any exercise programme and make modifications appropriate to one’s fitness level.”

1. Jumping Jacks (30 seconds)


A great warm-up to get the blood pumping for any cardiovascular workout is jumping jacks. Starting with feet together and hands at sides, jump the feet out slightly wider than hip-width apart and the hands together on top (keeping arms as straight as possible) simultaneously. Then, jump the feet back in, bringing arms back to the starting position. Repeat maintaining proper form.

Modification: Walk the feet out and omit the jump to alleviate stress on the knees and joints.

2. Plank Jacks (30 seconds)


In a high plank position, with hands right beneath the shoulders and feet together, jump the feet wider than hip-width and then back together. Repeat jumping feet in and out while remembering to keep the abdominals tight and back flat and keep the hips in line with the rest of the body.

Modification: Walk the feet wide and back together and omit the jump.

3. High Knees (30 seconds)


Starting with feet hip-width apart, lift one knee as high as possible, switch to the other knee, and continue the movement, alternating sides at jogging, running, or sprinting pace. Many exercisers like to hold their arms out in front of them to guide how high they would like to bring their knees. The higher the knees go, the more the abdominals are engaged.

Modification: High knees can be performed with less stress on the knees and joints by marching in place with high knees.

4. Mountain Climbers (30 seconds)


Starting in a high plank position with a flat back and abdominals engaged. Bring one knee at a time to the chest as fast as possible, alternating sides to mimic high knees while in plank position.

Modification: My favourite way of performing mountain climbers is bringing the knee into the opposite elbow, which involves more obliques. Switch the knee to the other elbow as quickly as possible. This exercise can also be performed slowly for the same benefit to mimic high knees marching in plank position.

5. Jump Lunges (30 seconds)


Starting in a lunge position with abdominals tight, one leg bent, and knee hovering as close to the floor as possible, jump and switch legs as many times as possible. It is important to use the arms to propel the jump and support balance.

Modification: This exercise can be performed by omitting the jump and simply stepping the leg back into a lunge to place less tension on the knees.

6. Pike to Plank Jump (30 seconds)


Starting in a high plank position, with abdominals tight and back flat, jump the feet closer to the hands while keeping the legs as straight as possible and shooting the tailbone towards the ceiling. Jump feet back out to starting position and repeat as many times as possible.

Modification: This exercise can be done by walking the feet in and back out to starting position to alleviate back pain.

6. Skaters (30 seconds)


Start with legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and arms at sides. Bring one leg behind at a slight angle while bringing the front knee to a 90-degree angle. Swing the arms in front of that bent knee and leap laterally, landing on the opposite leg to switch sides in a skating motion. Alternate the arms while switching sides.

Modification: This exercise can be modified alternating knees ups one at a time and hopping or stepping laterally, making sure to switch arms to support the movement.

7. Bench Or Floor Jump Over (30 seconds)


Starting with hands either shoulder-width apart on the floor or on the sides of a step/bench (if applicable) and feet together on one side, hop over the step to the other side with feet together, keeping abdominals tight and back flat. Repeat switching sides as fast as possible and as many times as possible.

Modification: Jumping over the bench can be replaced with walking over the bench one foot at a time. This exercise can be done on the floor with no equipment or a step or a bench depending on one’s fitness level.

8. Burpees (30 seconds)


Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at sides. Lower into a squat position and place hands on the floor. Jump legs back into a plank position while keeping abdominals tight and back flat. Jump legs forward to return to a squat position. Return to the standing position. Repeat as many times as possible.

Modification: Jumps can be replaced with stepping back and also stepping back in. A push-up can be added after the plank position for more advanced exercisers, and a jump with arms reaching high can be added after returning to the standing position.

9. Forearm Plank (30 seconds)

Unmodified and modified versions.
Unmodified and modified versions.

As a great cool down, while still getting benefits of exercise, this exercise is done with forearms parallel and elbows right under the shoulders, palms facing down. The head and neck should be neutral and in line with the spine. Feet should be hip-width apart, with flat back and abdominals tight.

Modification: To alleviate lower back discomfort, this exercise can also be performed on the knees.

Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.

HuffPost UK / Rebecca Zisser