Public Release: 29-Nov-2016
Swimming, racquet sports, and aerobics linked to best odds of staving off death
Specific types of sport and exercise seem to be associated with differing risk levels
In terms of exercise, swimming, racquet sports, and aerobics seem to be associated with the best odds of staving off death from any cause and from heart disease and stroke, in particular, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Overall, compared with the survey respondents who said they had not done a given sport, risk of death from any cause was 47% lower among those who played racquet sports; 28% lower among swimmers; 27% lower among aerobics fans; and 15% lower among cyclists.
No such associations were seen for runners/joggers or those who played football/rugby.
When the researchers looked at risk of death from heart disease and stroke, they found that playing racquet sports was associated with a 56% lower risk, with equivalent figures of 41% for swimming and 36% for aerobics, compared with those who did not participate in these sports.
Neither cycling, running/jogging, nor football/rugby were associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, the analysis showed.
The researchers did find a 43% reduced risk of death from all causes and a 45% reduced risk from cardiovascular disease among runners and joggers when compared with those who didn't run or jog, but this apparent advantage disappeared when all the potentially influential factors were accounted for.
And few of the survey respondents said they played football or rugby regularly, which might also explain the apparent low impact of these activities on death risk in this study, explain the researchers.
For some sports, the higher the intensity, duration, and volume, the greater was the reduction in risk, while for others a U shaped curve emerged, indicating that lower intensity might be better than higher intensity or no participation at all. But due to the small number of deaths involved, these findings should be regarded as preliminary, say the researchers.
This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which the relatively short recall period, the 'seasonality' of certain sports, and the inability to track changes in levels of sports participation throughout the monitoring period, may all have had some bearing on the results, caution the researchers.