Finally some validation for us Tennis players. Playing tennis can help you live longer according to a study by Oxford and some researchers in Finland and Australia. The study was conducted over a period of 9 years over a pool of 80,000 people mostly of Scottish and English descent.
These people consisted of 52% women and 48 % men. The mean age was 52 +- 14 years. The study covered key sports and recreation activities like Running, Football (Soccer for my American friends), Swimming, Running, Tennis, Cycling, Aerobics and Racquet Sports. The study looked for correlation in all cause mortality and Cardio Vascular Related Mortality.
Over a period of 9 years as the study ran, the researchers found significant reduction in all cause mortality for Cycling, Swimming, Aerobics and Racquet Sports. No reduction in mortality was observed for those in Running or Football.
Similarly for Cardio Vascular Related Mortality significant reduction was observed for Swimming, Aerobics and Racquet Sports. Again there was no reduction in mortality due to Cardio Vascular Diseases observed for Cycling, Running and Football.
The results are available on this link and the study is a paid one.
The study revealed that risk of mortality reduced by 47 percent for Racquet sport players and 28 percent for Swimmers. In terms of Cardiovascular Diseases, Racquet players were again in front, with a 56 percent reduced mortality risk, with swimmers at 41 percent and aerobic participants at 36 percent. No such significant associations were found for Football, Cycling, or Running.
But why is it that Racquet Sports/Tennis Players live longer ?
Well I can think of the following reasons
- Tennis is a social game- I have been playing tennis since 1985. Some of my best friendships were made on the court. So though it is a sport, it is also the reason for creation and strengthening of a social network. Friends from school, college, university, apartment blocks and clubs have been bound by the fellowship of the court.
- Tennis injuries though frequent do not lead to situations serious enough to end playing the sport. This is one reason why you see people from all ages playing. At the club I play these days we see people from all age groups, from 5 years to 70. This shows the longitudinal influence of tennis in a person’s outdoor activity. I might have played other sports in between but Tennis has been a constant in my life.
- Football has limitations- I was very much into Football earlier. A injusry to the knee in B School ended that effectively. For a while after that I was just a spectator watching Football on the Telly and in stadiums. Now that is a recipe for CVD related death as it contributes to a sedentary lifestyle.
- Running has never been my forte- But I hear of stories of injuries to runners. Some time ago I had a conversation with Sports Scientists Shymal Vallabji, who told me about the dangers from conditions like Torn Cartilage, Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, Neuromas, and Shin Splints. Each one of them has the ability to end your ability to participate in Running as an activity.
- Social circles enhances life- The more social you are, chances are that you would live longer. We often underestimate the effect of a social circle on health. The reason why Tennis might score over Football here is that Tennis Players continue playing for longer periods of time, hence the social bond remains for a longer time. It would be fascinating to see the effects of this social bonding on football fan clubs. As friends we also shot a video on the management lessons from Tennis, the link is here
In conclusion, I think sport is a way of life and the longer you can indulge in this activity the better it is. Sometimes we look to Sports for short term results, but health is something more long term. It is more losing weight and posting pictures on Instagram. So drop the fad and pick up the Racquet, you will definitely thank me later.