The pros and cons of exercise
- Upside: Three hours a week cuts your risk of heart disease by 40pc. Makes bones stronger and less prone to osteoporosis, can slow memory loss. Easy, safe and free.
- Downside: You really need to tot up at least 16,000 steps a day of walking before the pounds start dropping off.
- Upside: Burns more fat per minute than any other form of cardiovascular activity; regular runners far less likely to die prematurely than non-runners; creates a release of endorphins that can cause a general feeling of happiness.
- Downside: High injury potential. Feet hit ground 800 to 1,000 times a mile during run with an impact equivalent to about three times the body's weight. Can lead to arthritis. Suppresses appetite.
- Upside: Exercises all main muscle groups; strengthens lungs; excellent for aerobic fitness and easing joint and back problems.
- Downside: Makes you hungry and craving fatty foods like chocolate and cakes. Poor technique can cause muscle strains, neck and back pain. Non-weight bearing so not useful in bone-building.
- Upside: Mentally demanding; improves concentration and decision-making. An average 18-hole course requires an 8km walk.
- Downside: Risk of lower back pain high and golfer's elbow; perceived as boring and elitist; expensive.
- Upside: Good for cardiovascular fitness and core body strength; intense bursts of energy followed by rest helps muscles use oxygen efficiently; improves leg strength, balance and hand-eye coordination.
- Downside: Risk of tennis elbow, sprained ankle or twisted knee; knees and ankles must accommodate quick stops and starts, and sudden changes of direction.
- Upside: Good for deep breathing and strengthening lungs and heart muscle.
- Bad for: Low impact nature of this sport means it doesn't build strong bones; can lead to chronic back pain; cyclists vulnerable to pot-holes and dangerous drivers.
- Upside: Bulks muscles and promotes physical strength; good for team bonding.
- Downside: Considered the most dangerous team sport; can lead to serious physical conditions such as arthritis; head injuries can lead to dementia in later life.
- Upside: Promotes core body strength, balance and posture. One hour riding can burn similar calories to 30-minute jog or cycle; contact with horses relieves stress; good for communing with nature.
- Downside: Horses can be unpredictable. Falling off part and parcel of the sport and can lead to serious injuries.
- Upside: Good for toning and building up bulk; can help shed fat without dieting; helps strengthen bones.
- Downside: Doesn't improve aerobic fitness; puts sudden stress on heart.