independent

Monday 21 April 2014

The pros and cons of exercise

Walking:



  • 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.


Running



  • 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.


Swimming



  • 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.


Golf



  • 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.


Tennis



  • 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.


Cycling



  • 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.


Rugby



  • 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.


Riding



  • 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.


Weight-lifting



  • 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.


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