Revealed: The best sports to ensure a long life… and it’s bad news for joggers…. But great news for squash players!
Study on more than 80,000 adults shows the sports and types of exercise that are linked to significantly lower odds of dying before those who do not take part
Regularly playing squash could help stave off death the longest, a new study suggests.
Scientists have narrowed down the sports and types of exercise that are linked to significantly lower odds of dying before those who do not do those activities.
Racket sports, swimming, aerobics and cycling seem to be the best for prolonging life, the research concluded.
Meanwhile, those who partake in swimming, aerobics and racket sports such as squash, badminton and tennis, also have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases such as strokes.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, examined information on more than 80,000 adults across England and Scotland who took part in national health surveys between 1994 and 2008.
In each of the surveys participants, who had an average age of 52, were quizzed about what type and how much physical activity they had done in the preceding months.
Only 44% were getting the recommended amount of weekly exercise.
Researchers also tracked participants’ survival for an average of nine years following completion of the survey – 8,790 of them died from all causes including 1,909 from cardiovascular diseases.
After taking into account influential factors, the authors of the paper identified which sport or exercise seemed to be the most beneficial.
Compared with the participants who said they had not done a given sport, they found that risk of death from any cause was 47% lower among those who played racket sports; 28% lower among swimmers; 27% lower among those who took part in aerobics classes; and 15% lower among cyclists.
No such associations were seen for runners or joggers and those who played football or rugby.
When the researchers looked at risk of death from heart disease and stroke, they found that playing racket sports was associated with a 56% lower risk, swimmers had a 41% lower risk and aerobics participants had a 36% lower risk compared with those who did not participate in these sports.
The researchers did find a 43% reduced risk of death from all causes and a 45% reduced risk from cardiovascular disease among runners and joggers when compared with those who did not run or jog, but this advantage was not deemed significant when influential factors were taken into account.
They cautioned that the impact of running and jogging might have been underestimated.
Previous studies that have highlighted the benefits of these activities had longer recall periods, the authors said.
And very few of the participants took part in football or rugby which could explain the apparent low impact of these activities, they added.
“We found robust associations between participation in certain types of sport and exercise and mortality, indicating substantial reductions in all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality for swimming, racquet sports and aerobics and in all-cause mortality for cycling,” wrote the researchers, from Australia, Finland and Oxford University.
“The growing evidence should support the sport community to develop and promote health-enhancing sport programmes to reach more people and contribute to greater proportion of population meeting the physical activity guidelines for health.”