Yeah, you may benefit from being more active. Go for a jog or a bike ride. You’ve heard it all before. But there is research indicating that a certain activity may take the cake when it comes to lowering the risk of death and promoting anti-aging effects.
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that racquet sports like tennis, squash, and racquetball are aces when it comes to protecting and promoting good health. And the results aren’t even close.
The research team looked at the role of a handful of activities that can play a role in heart health and death risk. Analyzing data from over 80,000 people, racquet sports was the overwhelming favorite activity to prevent early death, including often-recommended forms of exercise like swimming, aerobics, and cycling. Here’s the breakdown:
- People who played racquet sports had a 47 percent lower risk of early death.
- Swimmers have a 28 percent lower risk.
- Aerobics participants had a 27 percent lower risk.
- Cycling was associated with a 15 percent lower risk.
Numbers were even more impressive when researchers looked at the type of death. Racquet sports outperformed the competition when it came to heart disease and stroke. And as was the case across all modalities, the more a person participated in the activity, the lower their risk of death.
But what makes racquet sports so extraordinarily beneficial? Well, it might come down to a couple of things. One may be the fact that it’s a multi-functional form of exercise. It utilizes the whole body to promote power, agility, balance, endurance, strength, and mobility. There is also a social and competitive aspect to racquet sports that can provide some more fun than other, more independent and repetitive activity. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it can be a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a type of exercise with specific benefits to individuals over 60.
HIIT is defined as all-out activity lasting for a specific time interval—from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes—followed by a brief rest to catch your breath before doing it all over again. In people 65 and older, it’s been found to counteract age-related muscle loss by promoting the growth of new tissue and regenerate lost muscle cells.
If you’ve never played a racquet sport, you likely know somebody who has or know somewhere you can learn. Community centers across the country are home to squash and racquetball courts, even some tennis courts, that will have people on staff to teach you.
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