7 September 2018

Tennis for life

A new epidemiological study confirms that compared with players of other sports, tennis players are adding nearly a decade to their lives

If you are a regular tennis player, congratulations! If you are not, you might consider becoming one following the news that tennis players do indeed live longer. While all exercise is good, some exercise is much, much better when it comes to longevity.

In 2017, a widely-publicised study of 80,000 people in Britain found that those playing racket sports lived longer than those engaged in more solitary exercise like jogging or cycling. Intrigued, researchers used information from ongoing research about healthy lifestyles in Copenhagen to determine if the 8,600 people they had been studying for 25 years, died sooner or later according to what sports they played.  The results, just published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, were striking. Compared with couch-potato residents, the exercise-enthusiasts added a varying number of years to their lives.   

How many years different sports will add to your life

Health club activities: 1.5 years 
Calisthenics: 3.1 years
Jogging: 3.2 years
Swimming: 3.4 years
Cycling: 3.7 years
Football: 4.7 years
Badminton: 6.2 years
Tennis: 9.7 years

What is still unclear, is why. The best guess is that social interaction combined with sport is an extraordinarily powerful factor in extending life. It seems the loneliness of the long distance runner compared with the sociability of a friendly match could be a crucial factor in living longer. Anyone for tennis?