We all know that exercise is good for us.
Just 30 minutes of daily exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of dying early.
But it turns out some sports add more years to your life than others.
People who play racket sports such as tennis outlive those who participate in other sports.
Numerous studies validate this fact.
For example, a recent study of Danish adults found that people who frequently play tennis or other racket sports not only live longer than sedentary people, but they also out-live people who do other healthy activities such as running, swimming, and cycling.
The study analyzed more than 8000 people over a period of 25 years and determined that tennis can extend your life by nearly 10 years.
Badminton — another racket sport — added 6.2 years of life expectancy relative to sedentary people, trumping the longevity gains of other sports such as soccer (4.7 years), cycling (3.7 years), swimming (3.4 years), jogging (3.2 years), and other health club activities (1.5 years).
Another even larger study looked at over 80,000 British adults and concluded that participation in racket sports (including badminton, tennis, and squash) caused a 47% risk reduction in all-cause mortality and a 59% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality. These were the most profound results of all the sports studied, including swimming, cycling, running, football, and aerobics.
It is clear that racket sports provide incredible health and longevity benefits. But why might this be the case?
One possible explanation is that racket sports simultaneously tax the cardiovascular system and the brain. Racket sports build up your fitness levels while requiring complex movements (front-to-back and side-to-side) and quick strategic thinking. That combination of aerobic activity, strength building, flexibility, and mental agility is rare among other sports.
A sport like soccer has some of the same characteristics, which could explain why soccer placed just behind racket sports in terms of longevity benefits.
Tennis and soccer are also sports that bring you together with other people for social connection, which we also know is critical for health. On the other hand, running, swimming, and cycling are more often solitary activities.
Additionally, tennis stands out because it can be played at any age, keeping people active throughout their lives. Doubles tennis may not be vigorous activity, but it is far more beneficial than sitting on the couch.
Any amount of exercise is better than none, and numerous types of activities produce health and longevity benefits.
But tennis is the best sport for a longer life.
Start playing tennis today and you could wind up living a decade longer.