Plank exercise

Jonathan Pylant demonstrates a plank exercise.

Brad Loper/Dallas Morning News/MCT

Habits can be a problem when we get to a certain age. Either they are very hard to break when they are of the bad variety, or very hard to start when they are of the good variety.

The time to create those good habits has long passed, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start them. You most certainly can! It’s just not as easy. But nothing worth doing right is ever easy.

What if you could acquire the habit of staying fit after the age of 50 in just seven minutes a few times a week? What if the science shows that even as little as seven minutes of the right type of exercise could be beneficial to you? Would that fit into your schedule?

Let’s get real here. The busiest people I know find time to exercise. So time is not a very good excuse in my book. More than likely, it may be motivation that is the real problem. Or lack of it. Getting motivated to start and staying motivated is a huge deal.

The idea of the seven-minute workout has been floating around for a few years now, and has been new-and-improved a few times, too.

Basically, you perform a series of exercises that are in part high-intensity and – BAM! – in seven minutes you are done! All you need are a sturdy chair and your body! Each exercise lasts for 30 seconds, with a 5-10 second rest in between.

A few of the exercises are high intensity, but only a few. The list goes like this:

  1. Jumping jacks (easily modified)
  2. Wall sits
  3. Pushups
  4. Ab crunch
  5. Step up on a chair (or a regular stair step or fireplace hearth)
  6. Squats
  7. Triceps dip in chair
  8. Plank
  9. High knee jog (keep it low-impact by keeping one foot on the ground all the time)
  10. Lunges
  11. Pushups with rotation
  12. Side planks

You may need to modify a few of these if you are a true beginner. All of them are modifiable. For instance, not everyone feels comfy stepping up and down into a chair, but stepping on a stair step can be a manageable compromise.

There are other versions of this idea that have different work period times, or nine exercises instead of 12. But you get the idea: In just a few minutes, you can cover a lot of bases.

The routine starts out kind of mild, but then before you know it you are working up a little sweat. It should be a challenge.

If you decide that you can spare 14 minutes, then by all means do it twice!

The idea is that if you try to start small and grow this into a real habit, then you will feel bad when you don’t do it. That’s when you know you are hooked. Once you get used to that feeling after a workout of, “Wow, I am so glad I did that!,” you never want to look back.

The seven-minute workout is worth a try. Give it a month, and try it for 2-4 times a week during that month. Get a friend to try it with you. If you need help visualizing the workout, there are lots of app for that.

You will never regret any workout that you do – only the ones you didn’t do.

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer and manager of the Oxford YMCA. And she’s over 50. “Fitness over 50” is published the third Sunday of each month.