Five-Minute Fitness with 5 x 3

In Integral Development’s 3600 Leadership & Management Profile under the section heading ‘Personal Integrity and Self-Awareness’ (page 11), one of the statements presented for rating is “I look after my physical wellbeing and health (eg sufficient exercise, healthy diet, work-home balance)”.

We are all familiar with the plethora of evidence for the significant impact of ‘sufficient exercise’ on our short- and long-term health and wellbeing. The trouble is, with the constant professional and personal demands of everyday life, many of us baulk at the prospect of yet another commitment (time for the gym?), while at the same time we feel guilty for not heeding the constant health warnings. As these mixed emotions toy with our motivation to exercise, getting started is even more unlikely.

The Government of Western Australia Department for Planning and Infrastructure 2007 Walk There Today Guidebook (available for download at, suggests a minimum 30 minutes of walking on all or most days, at a speed that is fast enough to increase heart rate, but not impair your ability to talk.

The problem is that the minimum timeframe can induce all-or-nothing thinking: “If I can’t do 30 minutes, there’s no point”. This then compounds the already toying emotions and getting started is looking like it will never happen.

With the ‘30-minutes on all or most days’ minimum as the ultimate goal and the news that short bursts of exercise are equally or more beneficial than extended exercise (see, there are other options – for many of us, any change would be a quantum leap forward in the exercise game and a solid foundation for future development.

So, why not start with five minutes of walking three times a week (5 x 3) incorporated into your usual routine? This might be something like walking up the stairs in your office building every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, instead of riding in the lift. The key to getting started is identifying your personal 5 x 3 window.

For motivation and accountability, you could list the walks in your diary and mark them off as they are achieved. Once 5 x 3 is established as part of your usual routine, believe it or not, you will have achieved that seemingly impossible goal – a lifestyle change – and it hasn’t cost a cent.

You may begin to feel just a touch self-satisfied – good about your superior self-discipline – and this is likely to increase your motivation. You may also notice that during your 5 x 3 a mind space is created that is yours alone – to think and reflect (like meditation on the move).

If you take up the 5 x 3 challenge, you will be well placed to take advantage of the further options for incorporating exercise into your usual routine to be explored in the next eBulletin.

Ken Milling
Analytical Psychotherapist
ID Executive Coach

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