Want To Live Longer? Pick Up A Racket

Photo: @Huzaini

We all exercise for different reasons. Some of us want to get in great shape or build muscle, while others exercise to improve heart health, maintain strong bones, or relieve stress. For many of us, one of our primary motivations for heading to the gym or joining that intramural sports team is to increase our chances of living a long life. Better: a long, healthy life. So what if I told you that certain forms of exercise are better at promoting longevity than others?

New research, published this week in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggests that playing social sports, like tennis, has the potential to add years to your life. This epidemiological study analyzed data—which was collected over a period of at least 25 years—on the physical activity of over 8,500 Danish men and women. They then cross-referenced that data with the national death registry to gain insight into what activities could be associated with a longer life span.

It probably comes as no surprise to you that the men and women who exercised the least were more likely to have passed away. But what about specific activities? According to the study, this is the number of years you stand to gain by participating in the following activities:

  • Running: 3.2 years
  • Cycling: 3.7 years
  • Soccer: 5 years
  • Badminton: 6.2 years
  • Tennis: 9.7 years

So how do you explain tennis' stardom? According to the New York Times, researchers suspect that the social component of sports like tennis and badminton play an important role in their ability to protect health in the long term. Basically, exercise relieves stress, and bonding with others also relieves stress, which means you get a two-for-one deal when you engage in physical activities that also foster community. So grab a friend and start working on your backhand. Your future self will thank you!

Ready to learn more about how brain health and your diet are intimately connected? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.

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