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Dame Kelly Holmes’ tips for feeling healthier in just 5 minutes

The former athletics star shares her easy wins at home.

(Steve Bright/PA)

Dame Kelly Holmes has revealed her advice for feeling healthier and happier in just five minutes.

The double Olympic champion and Nuffield Health ambassador is backing the charity’s Find 5 campaign to encourage everyone to fit in five extra minutes of exercise when they can.

A new poll of 8,000 people from Nuffield Health’s Healthier Nation Index found the cost-of-living crisis is having a negative impact on 60% of people’s physical health.

So when it comes to exercising for five minutes, “You’ve got to do something that’s quite intense for a short period of time”, says Holmes, 52. “What you get from that is the after burn.

“Your body will continue to burn after that period of exercise, because for you, it’s high intensity. Remember, everyone’s high intensity is very different.”

(Nuffield Health/PA)

Here’s what she advises we do with five minutes of free time…

Walk or run up and down your stairs

“I’ve got stairs at home, which I’ll do cardio sessions [on], whether that’s walking upstairs, five or 10 times going up and down the stairs, or if I want to increase muscle load, try to do two steps and then push off – so using my glutes.

“Your heart rate elevates straightaway when you go up anything.”

Skip without a rope

“Skipping is a really good thing for people to do, even when you’ve not actually got a rope. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve not skipped since school!’ But you pretend you’ve got a rope and you hold that ‘rope’ in and you do double-footed jumps and one-footed jumps and that gets your heart rate up quickly.”

Make a healthy meal in five minutes

“Things you could do that are healthy are crushed up avocado, put in some chilli, onion, topping it up with spinach or rocket.

“Porridge is really quick, [add] frozen fruit and a few nuts on top of that – five minutes, literally done. Soft-boiled eggs are four to five minutes.”


Do push-ups

“Strength-based work for [an] ageing population is absolutely critical, and for women going through menopause, it’s absolutely critical.

“Bodyweight stuff – people are scared off, a lot of people say they can’t do press-ups, but you could do them on knees.

“Get your body nice and straight, just bringing your arms down – even if you go halfway down, holding for the count of one and push yourself up, until you get to the point where you can put your chest towards the ground.”

Use a cushion in a core session

“You can do a complete core session with a cushion, believe it or not – it’s called the cushion from hell. You can do your sit-ups or Russian twists [sitting up, legs off the floor, moving an object side to side] or chest press or anything with a cushion.

“Believe me, when you’re going for five minutes solid you realise how hard it is to hold something all the time while you’re doing exercise.

“If I laid on the ground and I bend my knees and have a cushion on my legs, then I try and extend my legs without the cushion going. You’re using your core so much because you’re thinking about keeping that cushion on your legs. You’re using all the intercostal muscles or your small little stabilisers, they’re working really hard.”

Do yoga for five minutes

“I do sun salutations, the mountain pose, using your breath. Stretching the arms up, back bends, down into cat-cow.

“Yoga has a great way of doing poses that are really good for circulation, really good for muscle tone, posture.”


“A lot of people say, ‘Oh I can’t do meditation because my head goes all over’. The head goes all over anyway, really. But the fact that you’ve sat down and approached that five minutes, as in I’m just sitting there and I’m going to listen to [something] – whether it’s the waves or the sound of somebody talking you through a practice. You’ve given yourself five minutes.”

Take control

“It’s for your mental health, it’s about having a bit of inner peace. If it’s listening to the best song that gives you motivation for five minutes, watching something empowering on YouTube, going out and thinking, ‘I’m doing this for five minutes, just for me, not for anyone else’.

“Taking control of you is really important. But sometimes you have to think about taking control – and that can take five minutes. Think about why you feel how you feel. What can you do to make yourself better? What can you do to make some changes?”

“People can’t force you to do it. You’ve got to take accountability for yourself. And within five minutes, we can all do that.”

Nuffield Health has launched free to access advice, articles and videos for easy ways to start exercising.



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