What if we told you that simply changing up your exercise regimen could potentially add a decade onto your life? While it’s no secret that exercise of any kind is beneficial to our health, new research suggests that you may want to think about taking up physical activities that are more social in nature to maximize the benefits.
According to the study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, after following 8,600 people over a 25-year span, those who got their exercise from playing tennis were likely to add approximately 9.7 years to their life, even after researchers controlled for education, socioeconomic status, and age! Badminton came in second place while soccer came in at number three. Here’s the full list:
- Tennis: 9.7 years gain in life expectancy
- Badminton: 6.2 years
- Soccer: 4.7 years
- Cycling: 3.7 years
- Swimming: 3.4 years
- Jogging: 3.2 years
- Calisthenics: 3.1 years
- Health club activities: 1.5 years
Another study published in 2017 came to a similar conclusion: people who play tennis and engage in aerobic activities are likely to live longer.
So why exactly are these sports the best? Due to the observational nature of the study, scientists are reluctant to say. However, according to a New York Times interview with Dr. James O’Keefe, co-author of the study and director of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Health Center in Kansas City, the primary reason is likely the social component since it is well-known that social support helps mitigate stress.
Unsure about getting into tennis? Don’t worry – it’s more about what you find pleasure in doing. Along with the social aspect, the Mayo Clinic study specifically mentions “leisure-time sports” as being significant, implying an element of subjectivity. So whether you’re jogging, cycling, or hiking with your best friend, as long as you’re doing something that brings you joy, you’re likely reaping some amazing benefits.