Activities like tennis, swimming and aerobics have emerged as better sports for a longer and healthier life than football and jogging, according to a new study.
Researchers of Oxford University found that people who played racquet sports such as tennis, squash or badminton slashed their risk of dying from heart disease and stroke by 56 per cent.
Swimming cut the risk by 41 per cent and aerobics by 36 per cent. No such benefits were seen in people who listed football, rugby or running as their main exercise.
"We think racquet sports not only offer the usual physiological benefits but also offer additional mental health and social benefits perhaps unique to these sports, Charlie Foster, associate professor of Physical Activity and Population Health at Oxford University said.
"We had a younger group of team sports players and runners and we may not have enough deaths to see a difference at this point in time, another five years and we will know with more precision," he said.
"One theory might be the team players struggle to graduate to new sports or activities once they stop playing, so they lose the benefits of their active younger days," he added.
The study, published in the 'British Journal of Sports Medicine' this week and conducted by scientists from the UK,Finland and Austria,followed more than 80,000 people for an average of nine years to find out if certain sports protected them against early death.
It found that people who play team sports when younger often do not move onto a new sport once their teams disband for family, or injury reasons.
They become spectators rather than participants in their chosen activity.
"There is a certain age limit to how well you can play football or rugby, or go running, to get the needed health benefits. People tend to move on from team sports to other forms of exercise when they get a bit older and their knees wear out. You can't store the benefits of sport done in your youth," Foster said.
The researchers believe that some sports, such as running or football, may also be affected by seasonality or weather which means participants do not keep them up all year round, which limits their long-term benefits.
"These findings demonstrate that participation in specific sports may have significant benefits for public health," the authors of the study said.
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