The 4 best sports to increase your life expectancy

The 4 best sports to increase your life expectancy
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The health benefits of sport are no secret: it reduces the risk of heart disease and prolongs life expectancy. Numerous studies have been carried out in the past ten years to see which types of sport are the best for living as long as possible. Read on to find out what they are! 

Results of a recent study

Physical exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of death for people aged 50 years or more. 

It appears that intense physical activity has the most health benefits.

In November 2016, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published an article in which the researchers analysed the relationship between sport and mortality, in particular mortality linked to cardiovascular disease. Their goal was to determine the types of sport that provide the most health benefits.

They analysed 11 annual health studies in England and Scotland which were published between 1994 and 2008, using data from 80,306 adults of around 52 years of age. They examined the sports practiced by participants in the 4 weeks previous, and if their activity was intense to the point of sweating or being out of breath. 

The seven most popular types of sports were: cycling, swimming, aerobics/gymnastics, dance, running, football/rugby and racket sports (such as badminton, tennis or squash)

In total, only 44% of participants engaged in the level of physical activity recommended for their age. 

On average, each individual was followed for 9 years. During this period, 8,790 people died and 1,909 of them suffered heart disease or a heart attack, which made up around 22% of the participants. 

Here are the best sports for a long life:

In comparison with the participants who didn’t engage in any physical exercise, the risk of mortality was:

  • 47% lower for those who did racket sports (badminton, tennis, squash)
  • 28% lower for swimmers
  • 27% lower for people who did aerobics/gymnastics
  • 15% lower for cyclists.

Football and rugby were not shown to have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases, possibly because these sports are played too periodically (more so in summer than in winter, or vice versa).

Otherwise, comparing joggers/runners to people who don’t jog or run, the runners reduce their risk of mortality by 43% and their risk of cardiovascular illness by 45%. But when all the variables were accounted for (comparing runners with people who don’t do sport in general), this effect disappeared.

The importance of the intensity of the sporting activity

When analysing the intensity of certain sports, the researchers discovered that the more intense a physical activity was, the higher its positive impact on longevity. This was not the case for all activities, and in some cases, the opposite was true -the less intensive the practice, the better.

Whatever the case, physical exercise reduces the risk of mortality and practicing any type of sport is better for your health than not doing any sport at all. So, to your gym clothes!