The publication of new research on the physical and mental benefits of exercise seems to be a near daily occurrence. If we're not finding out that an hour a week could help prevent depression or just 45 minutes of exercise a week boosts the brain power of people in their fifties and over, then we're learning that sitting down for 10 or more hours a day speeds up ageing. So if we didn't get it before, we definitely do now: exercise should be a vitally important facet of our everyday lives.
However, all this data and proof has us scratching our heads as to the best way to optimise our precious workout time. Do I need to do strength training or will a kick-around in the park suffice? I love a round of Sunday golf but would a jog on the treadmill be a better use of my time?
Fortunately, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota have ranked 39 common exercises based on information obtained from the US National Institutes of Health. The research calculated the number of calories burned during an hour of each exercise, with surprising results.
See where your sport of choice made it on the list below:
1. Running (8mph) - 861-1,074 per hour depending on your weight
When Usain Bolt broke the 100m world record, he was speeding along at 27.8 mph, so 8pm should seem like a breeze. And if you've got the endurance in the bag: running from London to York at 8 mph would take you 27 hours. Watch out Dick Turpin.
2. Skipping - 861-1,074
Skipping is a weightbearing exercise so can help to improve bone density, thus helping stave off osteoporosis. It'll also impress all your mates at break time.
3. Football - 752-937
In the last global census undertaken by the sports governing body FIFA, it was estimated that there are 265 million people who play football. Plenty of people to drag along for a kick-about then.
4. Taekwondo - 752-937
This Korean martial art that focuses on oh-so-lovely kicks to the head has been an Olympic event since 2000. And there are over 20,000 members of the Taekwando Association of Great Britain, with some 600 clubs to join, so you won't be doing high kicks on your lonesome.
5. Vigorous swimming - 715-892
Swimming is a full-body workout that is great for your joints. (By vigorous we're sure they don't mean splashing about in the shallow.)
6. Running up stairs - 657-819
A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that sedentary women who incorporated stair climbing into their daily activities increased their VO2 max, or maximum aerobic capacity, by 17.1 percent and reduced "bad" LDL cholesterol by 7.7 percent. And you don't even need to leave the house for this one – although we dread to think about the state of your carpets after.
7. Running (5mph) - 606-755
So obviously running quicker is going to burn more calories but you can still burn a fair amount running a little slower. Most people class 5mph as a strident jog (not me though – not since I was over-taken by a toddler during a 5k run).
8. Tennis - 606-755
Studies of lifetime tennis players found that the bones in the arm used to swing the racquet have a greater bone mass than those in the arm not used.
9. Climbing - 606-755
Each climbing wall is a puzzle as your brain has to figure out the next steps for your hands and feet. Training the mind and body.
10. Flag football - 584-728
Right this was an American study so this isn't anything to do with Wayne Rooney flying a kite. No, it's a little bit of tag American football - where the cleats and helmets are replaced with ribbons and good vibes.
11. Basketball - 584-728
Basketball is also great for improving your hand-eye co-ordination. If you take your eye off that hand you're likely to get a ball right in your mug.
12. Rollerblading - 548-683
While rollerblading you push your legs to the side; the movement strengthens the outside of your glutes - an oft neglected part of our body.
13. High-impact aerobics - 533-664
High impact exercises include running, jogging, jumping and other workouts all on one spot, where the body is making contact with, or pounding, the ground.
14. Racquetball - 511-637
Sorry Brits, its another unfamiliar American sport - but the differences between racquetball and squash are slim. The main distinction is that they use smaller rackets and balls in squash.
15. Ice skating - 511-637
Ice-skating is easy on the joints because it’s low impact, and it improves your balance and coordination - so it's great exercise for all ages.
16. Backpacking - 511-637
Even better if that backpack is full to the brim with gym clothes.
17. Slow skiing (2.5mph) - 496-619
Slow skiing requires a similar technique to rollerblading and ice skating - as opposed to just pushing yourself down a hill and letting yourself fly.
18. Water skiing - 438-546
A brilliant leg workout, owing to the fact that you have to steady your legs to absorb the bumpy effects of the water.
19. Rowing on a machine - 438-546
If you have back problems it is best to avoid this exercise. 30-50 per cent of rowers will have an episode of low back pain in a 12-month period.
20. Hiking - 438-546
A study by the University of Michigan found that walking on uneven terrain while hiking increases the amount of energy your body uses by 28 per cent compared to walking on flat ground.
21. Light swimming - 423-528
Breaststroke is the least beneficial stroke for burning calories but a much better cardiovascular workout than the other strokes.
22. Water aerobics - 402-501
In water aerobics, the buoyancy of the water helps take off some of the impact we tend to place on our body, due to our own water weight, so it is a recommended exercise option for those with joint conditions.
23. Baseball - 365-455
Professional baseball players tend to be lean, with 8-9 percent body fat, and quick, with most being able to run 60 years in under 7 seconds.
24. Kayaking - 365-455
Kayak means 'hunter's boat' in Inuit.
25. Weightlifting - 365-455
Lifting has been shown to halt and even reverse sarcopenia – the reduction of skeletal muscle that occurs as we get older.
26. Jogging on a treadmill - 365-455
Treadmills can lead to a loss of agility, as they fail to mimic the real-life conditions of running on uneven ground.
27. Low-impact aerobics - 365-455
Most trainers define low-impact aerobics as movements where one foot stays on the ground. They also lessen the risk of injury occurred by more vigorous exercises.
28. A brisk walk (3.5mph) - 314-391
"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking." That's a pro-tip from professional thinker, Friedrich Nietzsche, so you know your on your way to a winner.
29. Downhill skiing - 314-391
While it doesn't burn as many calories as skiing on flat ground, downhill skiing is a great ab workout, as your core works over-time to keep you on your feet.
30. Playing golf - 314-391
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports showed that on average golfers have a five year increase in life expectancy compared to non-golfers.
31. Power yoga - 292-364
Power yoga is like normal yoga, but at a faster pace and with added cardio.
32. Volleyball - 292-364
In a 2017 study by the London School of Economics on 459 athletes, those who played team sports, like volleyball, reported being more satisfied with their lives overall.
33. Easy cycling (less than 10mph) - 292-364
34. Canoeing - 256-319
The main difference between a canoe and a kayak is in the blades on the paddle (canoe has one, kayak has two) and the seating position (canoeist sits or kneels, Kayaker has legs stretched out in front).
35. Tai chi - 219-273
Tai chi, originated in 13th century China and is characterised by its slow, graceful, continuous movements that are gentle on the joints and muscles.
35. Bowling - 219-273
An average bowler using a ball that weighs 16 pounds swings a total of 864 pounds in a three-game series of ten-pin bowling, which is more than one-third of a ton.
35. Ballroom dancing - 219-273
It might be quite low on the chart, but former shadow chancellor Ed Balls might have a thing or two to say about that, as he lost a stone in six weeks during his Strictly Come Dancing stint last year.
38. Slow walking - 204-255
You could probably pick up the pace a little, but walking just about squeezes onto the required metabolic rate of over 3 to count as exercise.
39. Hatha yoga - 183-228
Researchers from Harvard University found that eight weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia.