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The 5 minute exercise plan

Bridie O’Loughlin is one of the Senior Physiotherapists at Benenden Hospital near Cranbrook, Kent. Qualified for 7 years Bridie helps Benenden members, private patients and NHS outpatients and inpatients, helping people rehabilitate after joint injuries and teaching them how to manage chronic conditions better.

She’s also part of the health and wellbeing team at the hospital, which is an initiative that’s been developed to support and facilitate the staff to really look after their own health and wellbeing. Bridie says, “We know that a happy workforce leads to a more productive workforce. We see members of staff in the physio department and we’re aware that sometimes our jobs mean we’re working in difficult conditions or are static all day.”

“Unfortunately not everyone’s got the opportunity to go outside or have a workout during the working day, but we can all find five minutes, a minute here and a minute there, and we can utilize that time to do some exercise. My exercise routine needs no specialist equipment and can be done anywhere.”

Bridie believes that by finding that first five minutes, people will be motivated to do more. “Our lives are very busy so it’s quite challenging to work out how we can fit exercise in. Exercise is about building a routine. If we set ourselves unrealistic goals the intention is great, but it’s quite hard to keep going. It’s easy to find five minutes, and then you feel the benefits and that encourages you to do more. We all know making and breaking habits can be pretty difficult, so I think of my exercise program as kickstarting the exercise habit.”

The Exercises

Bridie says it doesn’t matter what order you do the exercises in, or even that you do all five together. You can do one or two whenever you have a spare moment. She advises doing each for 30 seconds, then resting for 30 seconds, trying to build up how many repetitions you can do in that time.

Chair Squat

Holding onto a chair or stable work surface, stand with your feet a hip’s width apart, squeeze your lower tummy muscles and squat with your knees at about 30 degrees, then return to standing.

Lunge

Step one stride length in front of you, bend both knees as far as you comfortably can, squeezing your lower tummy muscles and keeping your back straight as you do so. It doesn’t matter if you don’t bend as far as someone else, it’s about doing what you can do and slowly improving.

Wall Press-up

Stand against a wall, no less than a foot away. Place your hands on the wall in front of you at shoulder height. Squeeze your lower tummy muscles, keep your back straight and bend your elbows, taking your chest towards the wall. To make it a bit harder, stand further away from the wall if you can. If you find that easy, switch to doing regular press-ups on the floor.

Tricep Dip

Stand with your back to a sturdy work surface – a chair won’t work – place your hands onto the work surface with your fingers pointing forwards, take one step away, keeping your body straight and bend your elbows, dipping your body down. You may find as you do so that you come onto the heels of your feet, which is fine. This exercise is particularly good for the back of the upper arm – great for bingo wings!

Star jump

Start with your feet together and hands by your side. You want to jump slightly, taking your arms straight up to shoulder height and taking your feet out to just past hip width apart. Jump back to your starting position and then repeat for 30 seconds.

For more information on Benenden Hospital, please visit www.benendenhospital.org.uk/Home.aspx

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