A Danish epidemiological study places tennis and group sports in general at the top of the podium for longevity. Social support would reduce stress
The elixir of life? Play tennis. Or more generally, holding a racket. Science says so (and not for the first time). The epidemiological study dated 2018, but still current. It’s time to Italy took home the Davis Cup after 47 years we can bet that many will want to try their hand at this sport which has the peculiarity of being able to be practiced even at an advanced age, naturally modulating the rhythms. The research linking sport and longevity focused on 8,600 citizens of Copenhagen, Denmark. For 25 years, from 1991 to 2017, researchers monitored their health and lifestyle through long questionnaires about their habits. The result confirms what is already scientifically known, namely that sport, regardless of the activity practiced, extends life compared to sedentary people. But the study, carried out by the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas and published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings
went further, going into the detail of the individual disciplines and placing the emphasis on sociality: group sports or sports with at least two people prolong life more than those practiced alone.
It turns out that nothing makes you live longer than tennis, a sport that gives you 9.7 years more than those who do not practice physical activity. Second in the longevity ranking is the badminton, which earns 6.2 years. Third step of the podium for the soccer, 4, 7 years. Off the podium the cycling (3.7 years older), the I swim (3.4 years older), the race (3.2 years older), the rhythmic gymnastics (3.1 years older). At the worst end of this ranking is the fitness, the gym activity with just 1.5 years gained. These associations remained unchanged regardless of people’s education, socio-economic status and age.
Activities in company
Researchers highlight how sports practiced in company, with at least two people, offer greater health benefits. Moreover, it is well known that team sports, or those which put you face to face with the opponent such as tennis, in addition to bringing advantages for the muscles and heart, also bring benefits for social interaction. We know from other research – explains James O’Keefe, co-author of the study – that social support contributes to reducing stress. But it is not clear whether the benefits of greater longevity derive only from here or also from other socio-economic factors.
The previous study
This is not the first time that tennis has reached the top step of the podium in the longevity ranking. From a study published in British Journal of Sport Medicine
published in 2016 which involved more than 80 thousand people monitored for 9 years it emerged that the risk of death was 47% lower for those who practiced racket sports (tennis, squash or badmnington) compared to those who were sedentary. Percentage that rose to 56% regarding cardiovascular problems.
Sport and longevity
But is there really a sport that gives more longevity than others? In general this is not the case and the important thing is to practice a physical activity that is enjoyable and not boring. Tennis is a sport with excellent characteristics for good health, which also has the advantage that it can be practiced for a lifetime. I believe that all sports, if practiced throughout one’s life at an adequate intensity and frequency, can give an increase in longevity and a decrease in mortality clarifies Gianfranco Beltrami, adjunct professor at the University of Parma and specialist in Sports Medicine. However, to provide health benefits, every activity – he adds – must be practiced according to correct periodicity and intensity criteria. That is to say at least two or three hours a week divided into three weekly sessions, with an intensity that must not be too mild because it does little, but not exaggerated either because it can produce free radicals (pro-aging factors), with the risk of trauma and joint overload.
Corriere della Sera also on Whatsapp. It’s enough click here to subscribe to the channel and always be updated.
November 27, 2023 (modified November 27, 2023 | 11:15)
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED