There's a new study out, indicating which sport you should pursue if you want to live a longer life. The answer? Tennis.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine surveyed 80,306 adults based on health surveys for England and Scotland that were taken between 1994 and 2008. They were asked what type of physical activity they had done in the previous four weeks. Answers included cycling, aerobics, swimming, running, soccer, and tennis. When looking at mortality rates among people who had performed these activities, researchers found that tennis players had a 56% reduced mortality risk, compared to swimmers who saw a 41% less risk, and runners who experienced a 36% less risk.
The study is not 100% conclusive because many of the participants in other sports were younger at the time of research. Participants were tracked for an average of 9.2 years. Additionally, it's important to keep in mind the frequency of exercise. If you're doing aerobics all day everyday, you're going to hit your burn better than a person who plays tennis twice a week. So don't worry, the study doesn't mean that certain sports "lead to earlier death."
By the way, when we preach about how great tennis is, we aren't dissing all other racquet sports. Racquetball, and squash, is an incredible way to stay fit. If you have any doubts, you've probably never played it. Within 10 minutes, you'll be ringing out your shirt. It's a great option for individuals living in cold climates, where tennis isn't a year-round option.
If you don't currently have a favorite sport to play, here's something to consider. When you're in your 20's, you need to play only the most physical sports because you will never be in better shape—this includes football, rugby, and boxing. As you head into your early 30's, start picking up tennis. You don't need to play 6 days a week... yet, but start learning the basics for later. By your mid-30's you'll want to gradually phase out the boxing and football, with self-preservation being the goal in mind. Start doing as much cardio as possible, from jogging to basketball. Then as you enter your 40's, embrace tennis like never before. Join leagues, play both singles AND doubles, get competitive. Tennis is almost as mentally stimulating as it is physically, so it's great for aging folks who want to keep their brain intact.
This study validates what tennis players have always known, that the sport reaps a ton of benefits for people of all ages. If you practice enough, you can even become like this guy: