Official: Tennis Is Good For You

November 30, 2016

Tennis is the secret to a long and healthy life, according to an extensive new study by Oxford University published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Along with other racket sports such as badminton and squash, tennis was considered the healthiest sport over a lifetime.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“The difference may lie in the social aspect which goes alongside sports like tennis”

“A study by Oxford University, and researchers in Finland and Australia, followed more than 80,000 people for an average of nine years to find out if certain sports protected them against early death,” according to  Sarah Knapton, Science Editor of the Daily Telegraph.

“It found that people who played racquet sports regularly were the least likely to die over the study period, reducing their individual risk by 47 per cent compared with people who did no exercise. Swimmers also reduced their chance of death by 28 per cent, aerobics fans by 27 per cent and cyclists by 15 per cent.”

“If you want to stave off death for as long as possible, you might want to reach for a tennis racquet”, said The Guardian. “Scientists attempting to tease apart the benefits of different sports have found that regularly taking part in sports such as badminton or tennis reduces your risk of death at any given age by almost fifty per cent.”

“It is the first big scale population study to say ‘is participation in sport protective in terms of your long-term mortality?’The answer is yes, it does appear to be,” said Charlie Foster, co-author of the study from the University of Oxford.

One of the key reasons for the beneficial effects of tennis is its high level of social interaction, says Knapton.

“The scientists say the difference may lie in the social aspect which goes alongside sports like tennis and squash, which often involve clubs and organised activities outside of the game. It means that people often have larger social networks and tend to keep up activities into later life, both of which are proven to be good for health.

In contrast, people who play team sports when younger often do not move onto a new sport once their teams disband for family, or injury reasons. They become spectators rather than participants in their chosen activity.”

It is quite possible that no-one of this will come as news to members of Queens Park Tennis Club.

You can read the full British Journal of Sports Medicine report here.

You can read the full Daily Telegraph report here, or read text version below.

 

Why tennis could save your life – but football and running may not help you live longer
Sarah Knapton, Daily Telegraph Science Editor

Playing racquet sports regularly could help stave off death, but football, rugby and running may not help people to live longer, a study suggests.

Sport is known to be beneficial to health, helping keep weight down, lowering blood pressure and improving heart and lung function.

But it was unclear which activities were the most beneficial in the long term.

A study by Oxford University, and researchers in Finland and Australia, followed more than 80,000 people for an average of nine years to find out if certain sports protected them against early death.

It found that people who played racquet sports regularly were the least likely to die over the study period, reducing their individual risk by 47 per cent compared with people who did no exercise. Swimmers also reduced their chance of death by 28 per cent, aerobics fans by 27 per cent and cyclists by 15 per cent.

Yet running appeared to have no impact at all on dying early, and neither did playing football or rugby.

The scientists say the difference may lie in the social aspect which goes alongside sports like tennis and squash, which often involve clubs and organised activities outside of the game.

It means that people often have larger social networks and tend to keep up activities into later life, both of which are proven to be good for health.

In contrast, people who play team sports when younger often do not move onto a new sport once their teams disband for family, or injury reasons. They become spectators rather than participants in their chosen activity.

Dr Charlie Foster, associate professor of Physical Activity and Population Health at Oxford, said: “We think racquet sports not only offer the usual physiological benefits but also offer additional mental health and social benefits perhaps unique to these sports.

“We had a younger group of team sports players and runners and we may not have enough deaths to see a difference at this point in time, another five years and we will know with more precision.

“One theory might be the team players struggle to graduate to new sports or activities once they stop playing, so they lose the benefits of their active younger days.”

The research, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, analysed information from 11 annual health surveys for England and Scotland, carried out between 1994 and 2008 in which people were asked how much physical activity they had done in the previous four weeks, and whether it had made them breathless or sweaty.

Less than half of the respondents met the recommended weekly physical activity quota of 150 minutes of moderate exercise when they were surveyed.

During the study period 8,790 died including 1,909 from heart disease or stroke.

As well as the benefits to overall mortality. the researchers found that playing racquet sports was associated with a 56 per cent lower risk from heart death.

Likewise swimmers lowered their heart disease or stroke risk by 41 per cent, and people who took part in activities like aerobics, keep fit, dance or gymnastics lowered their risk by 36 per cent.

But again running, football and rugby had no significant impact on heart deaths.

The researchers believe that some sports, such as running or football, may also be affected by seasonality or weather which means participants do not keep them up all year round, which limits their long-term benefits.

However because the runners and footballers in the study tended to be younger, the benefits may start to show in the next decade. Several studies in the past have shown substantial health benefits for running, particularly for heart health.

“The most likely reason for the lack of significant association between football/running and mortality is that participants in these sports were younger than those in the other sports,” added Dr Pekka Oja of the UKK Institute in Finland.

“Therefore we need another five to 10 years to follow up how the mortality rates develop.”

Nevertheless, the authors conclude: “These findings demonstrate that participation in specific sports may have significant benefits for public health.”

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director, British Heart Foundation, said: “I think it is fair to say this study suggests participation in sport is associated with an improvement in all cause and cardiovascular disease mortality – but this was only observed in particular sports such as swimming, racquet sports, aerobics and cycling.

“For most people the motivation to engage in sport-related physical activity is, and should remain, enjoyment of the sport, and team camaraderie that is linked to team games.

“If you enjoy running or football, do not let these finding put you off.”

Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine & consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, added: “This study must not be misinterpreted as showing that running and football do not protect against heart disease.

In this study both runners and footballers had a lower rate of death from heart disease. Although this was not “statistically significant”, many other studies have found that runners live longer and suffer less heart disease.”