The health benefits of staying physical active are already well-known. It can help you manage weight, keep blood sugar levels down and reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Now, a new study suggests that regularly playing sports, more specifically badminton or tennis, is not only healthy but also reduces your risk of death, at any age, by a whopping 50%.
Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, this is a first big scale population study to explore the health benefits of sports in terms of mortality. The study evaluated responses from 80,306 adults aged 30 and above in England and Scotland, who were interrogated about their health, lifestyle and exercise patterns.
After adjusting factors such as age, sex, weight, smoking habits, alcohol use, education and other forms of exercise besides the named sports, the researchers compared the risk of death among people who took part in a sport to those who didn’t.
The percentage of reduced risk of death was found to be:
- 47% for racket sports
- 28% for swimming
- 27% for aerobics
- 15% for cycling
In addition to this, the study didn’t find any significant reduction in the risk for sports like running and football. The findings also exposed that over 44% of the participants met the guidelines for the recommended exercise levels to stay fit and healthy; which amounts to 150 minutes of moderate physical activity in a week.
Does this mean you stop running or playing football and switch to tennis instead? Well, the results don’t imply that the latter activities are useless or not healthy. Every kind of sport and physical activity has different physical, social and mental benefits attached to it. However, the research explored how all these benefits translate into reducing the risk of death over the long-term. The apparent lack of benefits offered by some sports, such as running and football, could be attributed to several variables that were not taken into account.
In a nutshell, any kind of physical activity is great for all-rounded health outcomes. Being active helps you feel happier and live longer. So, the most important step is to take part in any kind of sport that you are likely to enjoy and follow long term.
Pekka Oja, Paul Kelly, Zeljko Pedisic, Sylvia Titze, Adrian Bauman, Charlie Foster, Mark Hamer, Melvyn Hillsdon, Emmanuel Stamatakis Associations of specific types of sports and exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular-disease mortality: a cohort study of 80 306 British adults. Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096822. 28 November 2016