Just one minute of exercise a week can benefit people over the age of 65, research reveals.
And spending the same amount of time doing memory tricks can help to boost brain health.
Here, Stuart Roberts, author of Get Strong, Get Fit, Get Happy: A Life Manual for 40+, reveals the best one-minute hacks to a healthy life.
From where you park, to how you breathe – these tips could change your approach to life.
Short, high-intensity (HIIT) workouts have the same benefits as working out for hours. Make them part of your daily routine.
Stuart explains: “People associate HIIT with younger people and think it’s too strenuous. But if you are walking the dog and see a hill, walk up it as quickly as you can for a minute. Rest for a few minutes and, if you feel up to it, do it again.”
Watch where you park
We all like to park right next to where we need to be. But Stuart says: “Park 100 yards away from where you go shopping, then when you walk back it gives you a little bit of exercise and you’ll be carrying a little bit of weight, too.”
Take the stairs
Try to avoid the temptation of the lift. Stuart says: “It can take a minute to walk up two flights of stairs. It doesn’t have to be fast as long as you are making the effort.”
Even if you are getting older it doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of quality time with your kids or grandchildren. Stuart says: “Playing with grandkids or kicking a ball around can get you moving.”
Start to stretch
Most people assume you have to be flexible to do yoga. But Stuart says: “Holding a yoga pose for 45 seconds or a minute can be very beneficial. It helps muscular strength and joint health.
You don’t need equipment and can do it anywhere. Learn poses with an app or go to a class to start off.”
Taking time to think helps to keep a stress-free mind. Stuart explains: “Meditation can be as simple as zoning out in the coffee shop. We’re told not to daydream but it’s a form of meditation and can help calm you down for a minute or so.”
Breathe like a baby
Deep breathing for a minute can help your mental and physical health. Stuart says: “When you deep breathe, your diaphragm pushes down into your abdominal cavity.
It’s the most natural way of breathing and can relieve stress.”
As we get older we lose physical skills like balancing. Stuart says: “Stand on one leg for a minute when you are doing the washing up. Balancing can help mental ability, coordination and agility.”
Brush up on your languages
Using a minute to learn a word in another language could really help with cognitive ability. “It’s all about challenging yourself,” says Stuart.
Make the most of your newspaper
It’s crucial not to overlook the puzzle pages. Stuart says: “Doing puzzles, crosswords or Sudoko really gets the grey matter going.”
Switching which hand you use can engage different parts of the brain and new muscles. “Do some-thing different, like brushing your teeth with the opposite hand,” Stuart suggests.
Go super slow
A minute of slow weights can have dramatic effects. Stuart says: “Lift very light weights really slowly – 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down. People who used this technique for five exercises saw a 22% increase in muscular strength over six to eight weeks. But it fatigues the muscle fibres so just do it once a week.”
Your body needs a decent amount of sleep: “Napping in the early afternoon can have real benefits – 30 minutes, three times a week gives you a 37% lower chance of dying from heart-related disease.”
Turn on the tap
Getting up to pour yourself a glass of water keeps you moving and hydrated. Stuart says: “We need to drink one to two litres a day. Older people tend to dehydrate without realising. It can lead to infections.”
Don’t let the grass grow
Being out in nature can have many mental benefits. Stuart says: “Do some gardening. If you only have a minute then pull a few weeds.”
Get to know the ancient Indian art of skin brushing. Stuart says: “It has lots of benefits for circulation and skin health. Do it for a minute before a bath and use long, slow strokes, starting at the extremities and finishing towards the chest.”
Reignite an old passion
You don’t have to practise for hours to reap the benefits. Stuart says: “It’s important to have a passion, especially if it’s active. If you love golf then why not practise your swing for a few minutes?”
Wash your mouth out
The Indian art of oil pulling helps cardiovascular and oral health. “Put a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth and slush it around. It pulls out lots of bacteria and toxins. Rinse your mouth with salt water and brush your teeth. It helps with oral hygiene, gum and cardiovascular disease.”
Care for your core
A weak core can damage the lower back as it puts pressure on the spine. But “locking your core” can combat this. Stuart says: “Pull your lower abdomen towards your spine and lift your pelvic floor. Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute. You can do it anywhere.”
Believe in yourself
Affirmations can help you achieve the best results. Stuart says: “Getting older doesn’t always have to be downhill. Pick an affirmation that resonates with you and repeat it for a minute. For example, ‘I believe in my body’.”