Q1. How much exercise does the NHS recommend?

A: 75 minutes of very intense, aerobic activity per week (like running, playing football, a game of single tennis or hill cycling); or 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity every week (like cycling or walking fast/hiking). This is for people aged 19 – 64. In addition the NHS recommends a couple of sessions a week of muscle strengthening activities

Q2. How much can exercise reduce the risk of major illnesses?

A: By up to 50%. That’s a big effect – and just one of the health benefits of exercise, which also range from boosting your immune system to reducing the risk of dementia.

Q3. BMI (Body Mass Index) above 30?

A: Yes, you should be worried. A BMI of over 30 is considered obese. Obesity is believed to be the underlying cause of a number of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (where blood arteries are blocked so the blood supply is denied to organs such as the brain, resulting in stroke). Obesity also causes breathlessness, increased sweating, snoring, difficulty sleeping, inability to cope with sudden physical activity, tiredness, and joint pains.

Q4. Why is it better to do more than one type of exercise?

A: Different types of exercise provide different benefits. For instance, walking is good for stamina and leg strength, as is cycling; yoga is good for suppleness; and dance is good for balance, suppleness and stamina. Swimming is good for strength, stamina and suppleness. T’ai chi is also a good source of exercise for older people, ticking most of the boxes – but needs to be complemented by something for cardiovascular health.

Q5. Can exercise reduce the risk of cancer coming back?

A: Yes. A major report from Macmillan Cancer Support, reviewing a range of scientific studies, concluded that exercise reduced the risk of many cancers coming back. For example the report found that breast cancer patients’ risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease could be reduced by up 40% by doing recommended levels of physical activity - and bowel cancer patients’ risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease could be reduced by around 50% by doing significant amounts of physical activity. 

Published 11/06/2012, Review date November 2014