Sports Fitness

There are certain types of physical activity that may be more conducive to a longer life than others. Most types of physical exercise help the heart by improving blood pressure and lowering blood sugar levels. Other benefits include lowering the risk of cancer.

A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed however that three types of exercise in particular help with longevity. More than 80,000 people aged 30 or more in the UK and Scotland were interviewed about their physical activity levels between 1994 and 2008. The data revealed that people who engaged in racquet sports, swimming, and aerobics (including dancing and gymnastics) had the least risk of dying during this period. Only 44 percent of the participants met the recommended public health exercise levels. Racquet sport players (e.g. tennis, badminton, and squash) had a 47% decreased risk of dying during the nine year study than people who did not exercise, and the figures for swimmers and aerobic practitioners was 28 and 27 percent respectively. People who partake in these activities are also less prone to cardiovascular diseases such as strokes. The researchers found that people playing racquet sports had a 56% lower risk of heart disease, swimmers had a 41% lower risk, and aerobic practitioners had a 36% lower risk.

The data for runners did not show any significant decrease in mortality rates but cycling did though to a lesser extent (15%) than the three disciplines mentioned above which are more vigorous generally speaking. Pekka Oja, the scientific director for the UKK Institute for Health Promotion in Finland, observed that the results should not be interpreted as an endorsement of these three sports as being superior to others. He said that all exercise is beneficial in lowering mortality rates and that individuals should choose to go for whatever form of exercise they felt most comfortable with. Emmanuel Stamatakis, an associate professor of exercise, health, and physical activity at Sydney University, stated however that the findings indicated that not only the frequency but also the type of exercise did make a difference.

The researchers also kept a death count of all the participants following the completion of the survey. A total of 8,790 died from varying causes including 1,909 from cardiovascular diseases. A conclusion from the study was there were not enough correlations between the type of exercise and mortality rates to make any meaningful deductions. The study only proved that there was an association between different types of sports and longevity as opposed to any underlying cause and effect.