Dame Kelly Holmes has revealed her advice for feeling healthier and happier in just five minutes.

The double Olympic champion and Nuffield Health ambassador - who retired from professional athletics in 2005 after doing the historic double by taking Olympic gold in both the 800m and 1500m in Athens – is backing the charity’s Find 5 campaign to encourage everyone to fit in five extra minutes of exercise when they can.

Great British Life: Dame Kelly Holmes at the Attitude Awards 2022 (c) PADame Kelly Holmes at the Attitude Awards 2022 (c) PA

A poll of 8,000 people from Nuffield Health’s Healthier Nation Index found the cost-of-living crisis is having a negative impact on 60% of people’s physical health.

So when it comes to exercising for five minutes, 'You’ve got to do something that’s quite intense for a short period of time”, says Holmes, 52, who today lives in the Kent countryside with her pet alpacas. 'What you get from that is the after burn.

'Your body will continue to burn after that period of exercise, because for you, it’s high intensity. Remember, everyone’s high intensity is very different.'

Here’s what she advises we do with five minutes of free time…

Walk or run up and down your stairs

'I’ve got stairs at home, which I’ll do cardio sessions [on], whether that’s walking upstairs, five or 10 times going up and down the stairs, or if I want to increase muscle load, try to do two steps and then push off – so using my glutes.

'Your heart rate elevates straightaway when you go up anything.'

Skip without a rope

'Skipping is a really good thing for people to do, even when you’ve not actually got a rope. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve not skipped since school!’ But you pretend you’ve got a rope and you hold that ‘rope’ in and you do double-footed jumps and one-footed jumps and that gets your heart rate up quickly.'

Make a healthy meal in five minutes

'Things you could do that are healthy are crushed up avocado, put in some chilli, onion, topping it up with spinach or rocket.

'Porridge is really quick, [add] frozen fruit and a few nuts on top of that – five minutes, literally done. Soft-boiled eggs are four to five minutes.'

Do push-ups

'Strength-based work for [an] ageing population is absolutely critical, and for women going through menopause, it’s absolutely critical.

'Bodyweight stuff – people are scared off, a lot of people say they can’t do press-ups, but you could do them on knees.

'Get your body nice and straight, just bringing your arms down – even if you go halfway down, holding for the count of one and push yourself up, until you get to the point where you can put your chest towards the ground.'

Great British Life: Dame Kelly Holmes (c) Steve BrightDame Kelly Holmes (c) Steve Bright

Use a cushion in a core session

'You can do a complete core session with a cushion, believe it or not – it’s called the cushion from hell. You can do your sit-ups or Russian twists [sitting up, legs off the floor, moving an object side to side] or chest press or anything with a cushion.

'Believe me, when you’re going for five minutes solid you realise how hard it is to hold something all the time while you’re doing exercise.

'If I laid on the ground and I bend my knees and have a cushion on my legs, then I try and extend my legs without the cushion going. You’re using your core so much because you’re thinking about keeping that cushion on your legs. You’re using all the intercostal muscles or your small little stabilisers, they’re working really hard.'

Do yoga for five minutes

'I do sun salutations, the mountain pose, using your breath. Stretching the arms up, back bends, down into cat-cow.

'Yoga has a great way of doing poses that are really good for circulation, really good for muscle tone, posture.'


'A lot of people say, ‘Oh I can’t do meditation because my head goes all over’. The head goes all over anyway, really. But the fact that you’ve sat down and approached that five minutes, as in I’m just sitting there and I’m going to listen to [something] – whether it’s the waves or the sound of somebody talking you through a practice. You’ve given yourself five minutes.'

Take control

'It’s for your mental health, it’s about having a bit of inner peace. If it’s listening to the best song that gives you motivation for five minutes, watching something empowering on YouTube, going out and thinking, ‘I’m doing this for five minutes, just for me, not for anyone else’.

'Taking control of you is really important. But sometimes you have to think about taking control – and that can take five minutes. Think about why you feel how you feel. What can you do to make yourself better? What can you do to make some changes?'

'People can’t force you to do it. You’ve got to take accountability for yourself. And within five minutes, we can all do that.'

Nuffield Health has launched free to access advice, articles and videos for easy ways to start exercising.

Perimenopause is killing me at the moment

The former professional athlete has spoken about the symptoms she is struggling with and the importance of rest.

Dame Kelly Holmes has revealed that symptoms of the perimenopause are 'killing' her.

The double Olympic champion said she is experiencing 'constant pain' and night sweats but that she is 'in denial of age'.

'I think perimenopause is killing me at the moment. As much as I’m in denial, it definitely has had an effect on my body.'

She described her symptoms as 'body aches, pains, like constant pain throughout the body, feeling lethargic'.

'Last week, I started getting the sweats, which I’m not happy about, only at night. I’m thinking ‘This isn’t good’. And it makes you more irritable. You feel like you’re not yourself,' she adds.

Perimenopause is the transitional period before menopause, when women’s hormone levels start to change, but before their periods have stopped for a full 12 months – therefore reaching menopause. The NHS says perimenopause usually starts between 45 and 55..

During the perimenopause, hormone levels change and ovaries start to produce fewer eggs. Symptoms can include hot flushes and night sweats, headaches, dizziness, aches and pains, joint and muscle pain, and difficulty sleeping.

'Doing some exercise is really important for people with perimenopause,' says Dame Kelly. 'You do as much as you can to combat it, so I go in the gym.'

'I take magnesium because I’m now sweating so I don’t want to get cramps. I’m thinking about upping my proteins,' she adds.

Mental health is less often discussed when it comes to perimenopause and menopause.

But Dame Kelly, who has been open about her own past mental health struggles, says: 'The one thing with the hormonal changes – and men get it as well at certain ages – hormonal changes in the body can really affect your mental health.

'And I think women have to understand how so connected and interconnected your mental and physical health (are), because if one is not in tune, the other one will be affected, whatever way around that is.

'When you feel your body’s a mess, that’s going to affect your head. But if you go into the gym or you go and do some exercises, at least you are doing it knowing that you’re benefiting yourself by doing it – even if those changes are still happening.'