Racquet sports like tennis and badminton are the most effective at keeping a person health in older age, a new study finds. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, found that regularly playing a sport like tennis for at least 2.5 hours each week between ages 59 and 82 could reduce a person’s all-cause risk of death 16 percent.
Running was linked with a 15 percent drop.
The team found that all physical activity — cycling, swimming, aerobic exercise, golf and even simply walking — had some sort of benefit for reducing risk of death in older people. The least effective, cycling, even reduced risk of death by three percent.
Experts have long known that staying physically active in older age can help a person maintain both physical and cognitive health and reduce their risk of developing conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s. This study highlights that particular exercises could prove to be more valuable than others.
Playing racquet sports like tennis, badminton or squash are most effective at preventing death in middle-aged and older people, a new study finds
Researchers, who published their findings Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, gathered data from 272,550 adults between the ages of 59 and 82 years old.
Each completed a survey on their weekly leisure time activities, whether it was partaking in exercise or something else.
The NCI team put a focus on seven different leisure-time activities in particular, running, cycling, swimming, aerobic exercise, racket sports, golf and walking.
According to physical activity guidelines set by health officials, American adults are recommended to get between 2.5 to five hours of moderate — or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of intense — physical activity each week.
Participants were followed up with over four years to gauge how long they had lived beyond the initial survey date.
The research team that reaching recommended marks while partaking in any sort of physical activity each week reduced all-cause mortality by an average of 13 percent.
Some activities proved to be more valuable than others, though.
Racquet sports — which include tennis, squash and badminton among others — could reduce a person’s risk of death from any cause by 16 percent.
The next most effective activity was running, which reduced risk by 15 percent, followed by walking (nine percent decreased risk of all-cause mortality), golf (seven), aerobic exercise (seven), swimming (five) and cycling (three).
Racquet sports were particularly effective at preventing death from cardiovascular issues, dropping risk by 27 percent. Walking also reduced risk of heart-related death by nine percent.
Running is the most valuable activity for those looking to reduce cancer risk, with 2.5 hours spent per week dropping a person’s risk of cancer related death by 19 percent.
Researchers found that more exercise could increase the health benefits, but there are diminishing returns to how much it can help an individual.
Previous studies have shown that there are a great deal of health benefits to staying active in older age.
Regular exercise can boost a person’s immune system — which becomes especially important in older age when you are more vulnerable to illness.
It can provide a boost to cognitive function as well, keeping away devastating issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s.