Can Playing Racquetball Really Make You Live Longer?

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

It’s a proven fact that being physically active is a necessary part of being healthy. The modern sedentary lifestyle takes an enormous toll on our health over the course of our lives, particularly with regard to our cardiovascular well-being. Many people think that exercise is just exercise, and that it doesn’t matter which kind of movement gets your heartbeat going. But new research shows that some forms of exercise can be more beneficial than others.

 

The study

A massive study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found an association between certain types of sports and exercise and a longer lifespan. The researchers asked over 80,000 people with an average age of 52 years old about their health and lifestyles. In particular, they wanted to know if the participants exercised, and if so, what type of exercise or sports they had engaged in the month prior to the study. The study lasted nine years, and 8,790 of the participants died before the conclusion of the study.

The data showed some interesting patterns. They found that individuals who had gone swimming in the last month had an average of 28 percent lower risk of dying early. For aerobics, it was 27 percent, and cycling offered a 15 percent reduction. Most interestingly, racquetball seemed to offer the most benefits: Participants had a lower risk of early death by a whopping 47 percent.

 

But why does physical activity affect lifespan?

The fact of the matter is, our bodies are designed to move. Our ancestors lived vigorous, physically demanding lives—running, climbing, hunting, gathering, and avoiding predators. Our bodies are not designed to sit for hours on end in front of a computer or in traffic. In fact, studies have shown that there is direct relationship between the amount of time spent sitting and the risk of obesity, as well as metabolic syndrome, a combination of elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, and increased weight in the midsection. In addition to this, excessive time spent sitting increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, and can even increase the risk of developing cancer.

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