Exercise is fundamental for maintaining and improving health and fitness; however, many individuals do not participate in regular exercise, with perceived lack of time a key barrier. Minimal dose strategies, which reduce weekly exercise volumes to less than recommended guidelines, might improve health outcomes with minimal time investment. However, minimal dose strategies and their effects on health and fitness are still unclear. Therefore, we developed a bodyweight eccentric-biased exercise program consisting of 4 exercises (1 set of 10 repetitions each), which took just 5-min to complete, and investigated the effects of the program performed daily for 4 weeks on health and fitness outcomes in sedentary individuals.


We recruited 22 healthy but sedentary individuals (32 – 69 years) whose daily steps were <5000. Participants completed a two-week control period, followed by a 4-week daily exercise intervention. Muscular strength, physical fitness, body composition and critical health markers were assessed before (PRE-1) and after the control period (PRE-2), as well as after the intervention (POST).


Participants adhered to the exercise program >90%. No significant changes in any measures were observed from PRE-1 to PRE-2. Following the exercise intervention, no significant changes in body mass, bone mineral density, fat mass, lean mass, heart rate, blood pressure, grip strength, squat jump or countermovement jump were evident. However, isometric mid-thigh pull, representing lower limb muscle strength (13%), push-ups (42%) and sit-ups (44%), representing upper body strength and sit and reach, representing flexibility (12%) increased significantly (P<0.05), and the increase in heart rate from a 3-minute step test was attenuated (8%) from PRE-2 to POST (P<0.05). Finally, mental health assessed by SF-36 significantly improved (15%) (P<0.05).


These results suggest that the 5-min eccentric exercise program was effective for improving physical fitness and mental health of sedentary individuals when performed every day for 4 weeks.

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Author notes

First author’s contact: [email protected]