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Study shows tennis players live longer

Study shows tennis players live longer
September 9, 2020

A new study has shown the benefits of sports participation for longevity, with those who regularly play tennis gaining, on average, an extra 9.7 years to their lives.

The research from the US-based Mayo Clinic, shows the specific sports that have the most significant impact on participant's lifespan, with tennis players benefiting from increased aerobic capacity, better metabolic function, higher bone density and lower blood pressure.

Other sports and activities found to contribute to increased average life expectancy are:

• Badminton - adds 6.2 years
• Football - adds 4.7 years 
• Cycling - adds 3.7 years 
• Swimming - adds 3.4 years
• Jogging - adds 3.2 years
• Callisthenics - adds 3.1 years 
• Other health club activities - adds 1.5 years

Commenting on the findings, Anthony Fleming, General Manager of Health Insurance and spokesperson for leading comparison service Compare the Market, explains "other than a vitamin C boost with half-time oranges, playing football has a number of physical and mental benefits which attribute to an additional 4.7 years of life expectancy.

"The regular change of pace between walking, running and sprinting builds flexibility and endurance, as well as increasing muscle and bone strength. Getting out on the field can also boost confidence and self-esteem, which can reduce anxiety."

However, Fleming cautions that "while 90% of Aussie adults have an interest in sport, fewer people are getting out on the field, with adult participation expected to decline by more than 15% by 2036.

"If living longer isn’t enough motivation, the friendly competition and sociability of team sports can help Aussies get moving. With the average game of sport between 45-90 minutes long, playing in a team encourages longer stints of exertion, often at a higher intensity.

"The benefits of non-physical sports are also well researched, with chess being proven to help people live longer and lower the chance of developing dementia. A 2018 study found that chess grandmasters outlasted the general population by up to 14 extra years. This highlights the connection between the body and the mind, proving that both need to be nurtured in order to live a longer and healthier life."

Fleming, whose focus is on improving education and information within the health sector, including empowering consumers to better support their health needs through tailored private health insurance policies, goes on to advise "a more versatile option for those wanting to get moving and increase their lifespan is to engage in health club activities.

"The study reveals that hitting the gym can increase life expectancy by 1.5 years."

He concludes that "certain private health insurance policies for extras cover may even provide a rebate on gym and exercise class fees to help Aussies stay fit and healthy."

Click here to view the Mayo Clinic study Various Leisure-Time Physical Activities Associated With Widely Divergent Life Expectancies: The Copenhagen City Heart Study.

More information relating to health benefits of sport participation can be found at www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/soccer-health-benefits and www.health.gov.au/health-topics/sport#:~:text=Participating%20in%20sport%20and%20physical,and%20physical%20activity%20in%20Australia.

Click here for more information on Compare the Market.

Image: Devotion active wear (top) and walking football (below, courtesy of Hills Football Association). 

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29th May 2019 - Maroondah City Council trials Walking Football program to promote positive healthy ageing

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4th February 2019 - parkrun Australia among 27 successful recipients of Better Ageing Program grants

28th January 2019 - FFA to roll out walking football across Australia

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30th November 2018 - Fitness Australia announce Victoria Active Ageing Partnership to receive funding for another year

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