A study conducted by Saint Luke’s Health Center in Kansas City, United States, has shown that social sports like tennis and badminton could add up to 10 years to a person’s life than the regular sports like cycling and jogging.
The study also showed that while tennis can add an average of 9.7 years to life expectancy, badminton has the capacity to add at least 6.2 years to a person’s life.
Carried out on 8,577 people in Copenhagen, and published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings recently, the study showed that the social aspect of these sports play a big role on how it improves the health of people.
“It is well known that people who exercise are likely to live longer, and a study of nearly 8,600 people in Copenhagen found social sports may have extra benefits.
“But more solitary sports have less of an impact on people’s life expectancy – cyclists live an average of 3.7 years longer, swimmers 3.4 years and joggers just 3.2 years.
“We cannot tell why tennis adds more years to life than others, but we suspect that the social interaction could be important,” the study revealed.
One of the researchers of the study, James O’Keefe said that while raising the heart rate through exercise is important for longevity, connecting with other people was also vital.
The study also compared people’s lifestyle details, including how often they played each sport, if at all, with national death records.
According to O’Keefe: “People who report almost never exercising are the most likely to die young. But there are also differences in life expectancy among people who play different sports.
“Joining a book club or church group when you retire may extend your life. Maintaining social links might even be more important for health than keeping fit.
“We tracked a group of 424 recently retired English men and women for six years, and it was observed that the more social groups the pensioners belonged to, the lower their risk of an early death.
“Those who stopped attending social clubs they had been members of before retiring became six times more likely to die prematurely, as those who kept attending two or more,” he said.
He suggested that people who cycle or run could consider finding a partner or group to join them to boost the long-term health effects.
The findings back up a study of 80,000 British adults, published last year in the British Medical Journal, which found people who play racket sports tend to outlive joggers.
Researchers on the new study said the life-extending effects still remained regardless of people’s age, wealth or level of education, suggesting that sports have a direct benefit.
But O’Keefe said it was still possible that people who have enough free time and money to play tennis regularly live longer because they have free time and money, rather than because of the tennis.