Playing Tennis May Help Contribute To A Longer Life, Study Shows

Undoubtedly, most have probably heard that getting regular exercise and fresh air can provide a major boost to one’s overall health, well-being, and happiness. According to a new study, there may be more perks to being involved in specific type of “racquet sports,” such as tennis, badminton, and squash, than originally thought.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from institutions across Europe and Australia. It was recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, where the researchers’ findings can be read in full.

In the study’s abstract, the authors describe how data regarding how being involved in a certain sport might relate to a person’s long-term health has been rare up to this point. This aim of the study was to provide more data in this particular field. Specifically, the study attempted to look at the relationship between involvement in certain sports and “all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.” According to Zosia Chustecka of Medscape, CVD has long been the leading cause of death in the United States, but cancer is quickly catching up.

The researchers in the study looked at participation in six different sports or recreational activities. The sports that were studied were cycling, aerobics, running and/or jogging, football and/or rugby, swimming, and racquet sports.

The researchers looked at 11 studies from either the Health Survey for England or the Scottish Health Survey, all of which took place between the years of 1994 and 2008. Over 80,000 English or Scottish men and women were studied.

The participants, each of whom were over the age of 30, were asked a set of questions regarding their routines, including if their workouts were enough to make them “sweaty” or “out of breath.” They were also asked questions regarding the frequency and duration of their participation in the aforementioned sports or activities.

The participants were tracked for approximately nine years. It is explained in the study that there were 8,790 deaths that occurred among the group that was studied. A total of 1,909 deaths were due to CVD.

Ultimately, the study ultimately found that involvement in the racquet sports proved to be the most beneficial. According to the study, participating in racquet sports, such as tennis, was linked to a 47 percent reduced risk of death of any cause. Furthermore, involvement in the racquet sports was shown to reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 56 percent.

The research revealed that swimming, aerobics, and cycling have benefits in this area as well. According to the study, swimming revealed a 28 percent reduced risk of death due to any cause, and a 41 percent reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. Involvement in aerobics cut risk of death from any cause by 27 percent and cardiovascular disease by 36 percent. Cycling reduced all-cause mortality by 15 percent, but did not show evidence of reducing risk of death from CVD.

Quite surprisingly, the study did not reveal the same benefits for jogging or running. It is also explained in the study that participation in football or rugby did not show significant reduction in reduced mortality risk for all causes or CVD, either.

It is explained, however, that the study is not without its flaws and limits. In an article written by Nicole Lyn Pesce on the New York Daily News, Dr. Pekka Oja of the UKK Institute in Finland, a main contributor to the study, further explained the surprising results of the sports such as running.

“The likely reason for them not showing reduced mortality in the fully adjusted analysis was that the participants in these sports were younger than their controls and the participants in the other sports to begin with, and we would need another 5-10 years to follow them in order to find the actual mortality rate.”

Pesce’s article further explains that the study is “observational,” and it does not prove a cause and effect relationship. However, the study itself concludes with the researchers saying that their findings should bolster “the existing body of knowledge” relating to how participation in sports is thought to have excellent ability in promoting “public health.”

The authors also state that future studies should be “well-designed” and try to fortify evidence on the relationship between sports and wellness benefits. If the benefits are found to be real, the researchers further state that finding new ways to increase sports participation should be looked at as well.

Though more research still needs to be done, it is certainly exciting to hear that something as simple as heading to the tennis court on a regular basis could potentially have such an impact.

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