Looking for any new hobby? Try tennis, swimming, or dance,?and you may just extend your lifespan,?suggests research published within the British Journal of Sports Medicine.?Within an analysis of six sport and exercise categories, researchers found that?people who pursued these?activities actually lived more than those who got their fitness on in other ways.
The study surveyed a lot more than 80,000 adults in England and Scotland, ages 30 and up, who were asked about the physical activity they had done in the last four weeks. Along with things like housework and walking, they were also inquired about?racquet sports (for example badminton, tennis, and squash),?swimming, aerobics (including dance?and?gymnastics), cycling, running and jogging, and football and rugby.
Participants were followed for around nine years, during which 8,790 people died, including 1,909 from heart disease or stroke. When the researchers compared mortality rates of people that did different sports (after taking into account factors such as age, gender, and medical history)?they discovered a few interesting findings.
In the racquet sports category, individuals who said they’d played in the past four weeks were built with a 47% lower risk of death from any cause compared to those who hadn’t, in addition to?a 56% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
People who swam and did aerobics also saw significant benefits than others who didn’t: these were 28% and 27% not as likely to die from any cause, respectively, and 41% and 36% not as likely to die from cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Cycling gave participants a 15% lower chance of all-cause death compared to non-cyclists, but didn’t offer protection against cardiovascular disease and stroke deaths.
The other sports did not appear to independently control death, from the cause or from cardiovascular problems-meaning that mortality rates of those that took part in them weren’t statistically different from people who didn’t.?
There are some caveats, however. For runners and joggers, the researchers did look for a 43% lower chance of all-cause death (and a 45% lower risk of cardiovascular death)-but that?link disappeared once the results were adjusted for additional factors (such as long-term illness, body mass index, drinking and smoking status, and weekly volume of other exercise).
The relatively few deaths in the running group-and the truth that participants were only asked about activities they’d done in the last four weeks-may have skewed results, the researchers?say.?”It seems, therefore, that although not significant, our result increases the body of evidence supporting beneficial effects of jogging/running on all-cause and [cardiovascular disease] mortality, instead of contradicting it,” they wrote.
As for football and rugby, only 6.4% of men?and 0.3% of ladies had played these sports in recent weeks. This type of small sample size could explain why no benefit was observed in the study, say the researchers.
Still, the truth that only certain sports showed?statistically meaningful benefits is worth investigating further, the researchers say. “Our findings indicate it’s not just how much and just how often, but additionally which kind of exercise you accomplish that seems to result in the difference,” said senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, associate professor of exercise, health, and exercise in the University of Sydney, in a pr release.
Of course, doing any kind of being active is still better than none. This is an particularly important point, given that only about 44% of study participants met the national guidelines for exercise.
And talking about how much and just how often, participants were quizzed about frequency and amount of their exercises. They were also asked if the activity was enough to make them breathless and sweaty.?For some sports, it appeared the longer and more intense the workouts, the better protection against death. For others, lower intensity appeared to be a more sensible choice.
But more scientific studies are needed, the authors say,?concerning weren’t enough deaths for every the degree of intensity to tease out meaningful trends.?They?also observe that the research, as a whole, was only able to prove a connection between sports and longevity-and not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.