Party leaders reveal relaxation secrets ahead of TV debates

The party leaders revealed their relaxation secrets today, with Gordon Brown confessing to trying Pilates, David Cameron growing his own vegetables and Nick Clegg sneaking into the garden for a quick smoke.

All three sought to boost their personal profiles in an interview with Zest magazine, ahead of the first-ever televised leaders' debate tonight.

The Prime Minister said he did a "lot of tearing around after the kids, a lot of kickabouts and treasure hunts".

He added: "I also try to run in the park or on the treadmill. I've tried Pilates but running suits me best."

He admitted to a penchant for chocolate but did not mention bananas, which he was reportedly eating in large quantities during long days at Downing Street.

Tory leader David Cameron said he went running twice a week and cycled to work once a week, as well as gardening and playing tennis.

His worst health habit was "eating fatty foods and eating too much".

He said: "I'm very greedy. I try to eat healthily. I do lots of cooking and I like growing my own vegetables."

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he played tennis once a week and was an "obsessive skier".

But he added: "If I've had a really long day, I steal into the back garden and have a quick smoke. It's five minutes to myself. It drives Miriam (his wife) round the bend."

Long-term sleep deprivation was Mr Clegg's biggest health worry as he wondered whether it did "something to you over time".

He said: "All my mum ever says when she sees me on the telly is, 'You look so tired, dear'."

All three leaders are fathers of children under the age of 10.

Mr Cameron said his children Nancy, six, and four-year-old Arthur kept him happy: "There's something life enhancing about them bouncing on your bed in the morning."

He was able to keep a work life balance by keeping a "strict diary", adding: "Tonight is my night at home. I'll put the kids to bed and have a quiet supper with (wife) Sam."

Mr Brown said his sons John, six, and three-year-old Fraser were always "in and out of the office" at Number 10.

Asked to name the one thing in his medicine cabinet he could not live without, he replied: "Plasters. When you've two kids, you can never have enough plasters!"

Mr Clegg, father to Antonio, eight, Alberto, five, and one-year-old Miguel, said: "There's no greater antidote to the lunacy of modern politics than your own family."

The May issue of Zest magazine is on sale today.

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