No one doubts that exercising improves our health, but did you know that certain strength training, aerobic exercise and even sports can affect your life expectancy?
Do Sports Increase Lifespan?
A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings followed nearly 9,000 people over the course of 25 years, comparing their exercise routine and life expectancy. Unsurprisingly, it found that sedentary people were more likely to have died over the course of the study than those who regularly exercised. The connections between certain sports and longevity were more intriguing.
Does Playing Tennis Increase Longevity?
The Mayo Clinic study notably found that playing tennis and badminton increased the life expectancy of participants by 9.7 years and 6.2 years, respectively. It’s impossible to know exactly why these sports correlate with living a longer life than others, due to the observational nature of the study. However, both of these longevity sports involve more social interaction than individual sports.
Researchers suspect that the social aspect of team sports, like racket sports, is an essential part of how they lengthen lives.
That’s not to say individual sports can’t improve life expectancy. Cycling and swimming are a great form of exercise, ranked just below badminton in the study. They only extended life expectancy by ~3-4 years, significantly lower than the increase seen with racket sports. This reinforces the correlation between social interaction and longevity. Even when researchers controlled for age, education and socioeconomic status, the findings that racket sports are the best exercise for longevity remained unchanged.
The varying physical demands of these sports could also play a role in their ability to improve cardiovascular health and longevity. Both tennis and badminton require balance, coordination and mental agility. Socializing while playing these sports likely amplifies the known benefits of exercise.
So, consider this your sign to lace up your tennis shoes and get active! Try a racket sport for your health now and in the long term.
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