Sports you should play for a longer, healthier life
“There is definitely a reduction in your risk of dying from all causes if you are a cyclist, if you did aerobics, if you are a swimmer and if you did racquet sports,” said Charlie Foster, an expert in exercise and health at the University of Oxford in Britain.
That might be because people are younger when they run or play team sports such as soccer and many just stop exercising altogether once they “age out”, he said. And very few women played such team sports, the researchers noted.
It will take more research to find out for sure.
“You stop playing those team sports. You switch into another activity or sport and if you don’t, then all of those benefits go. They are gone,” Foster said.
“You don’t have to take sport seriously. You just have to take it regularly.”
-Playing and having fun
Racquet sports — tennis, squash or badminton — seemed to keep people the healthiest, the team found. Compared to couch potatoes, people who played these sports had a 47 percent lower risk of dying over the nine years after they were first surveyed.
The risk of death was:
28 per cent lower among swimmers
27 per cent lower for people doing aerobics or dance
15 per cent lower among cyclists.
Foster thinks team sports may help people in more ways than just keeping them fit.
“There are particular social and psychological and mental health benefits that perhaps other sports don’t generate in the same way,” he said. “Perhaps people like to stick with them and perhaps do them with their buddies. They enjoy hanging out with people and playing and having fun.”
-Find something you love
What about Foster? What do exercise experts do?
“I was your classic team sports player as a young child and a young adult — soccer, rugby and I played a bit of basketball,” Foster said.
“I had a knee injury and I stopped playing contact sports and I took up running. Now I am into walking my Labrador,” he said.
He said like most people who exercise, what he prefers to do has changed over the years. Foster also does a bit of stand-up paddleboarding in the river near where he lives.
“I play a bit of cricket in the summer,” added Foster. “I play golf very badly. I walk everywhere.”
As every exercise expert will advise, what matters more than what you do is that you do something, Foster said.
“Find something you love, do it with people you love, and it will serve you well,” he said.