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Sports Medicine Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and Murray Furbister

Racket Sports Cut Mortality, Football Does Not

Biloine W. Young • Fri, December 23rd, 2016

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Dust off the tennis, badminton or squash racket that is hibernating in the closet and put it back into use. Reason? A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that racket sports were the most effective at reducing risk of death. Those sports reduced the risk of death from all causes by 47% and lowered by 56% the risk of death from heart disease and stroke-related causes.

According to Alia Hoyt, writing for How Stuff Works, the study followed more than 80, 000 adults over age 30 in England and Scotland for an average of nine years per person between 1994 and 2008. The survey gathered information about the type, amount and intensity of physical activity completed during the previous four weeks. The questions focused on the six most popular sports: cycling, swimming, running, football, racket sports and aerobics.

Hoyt reports that of the initial 80, 306 responders, 8, 790 died from any cause, including1, 909 who died from stroke or cardiovascular disease, during the study period. The risk-reduction numbers were calculated in comparison with survey responders who did not engage in any of the sports during the same period.

"We know that all these sports have beneficial short term effects on cardiovascular risk factors, " explained lead researcher Pekka Oja, M.D. of the UKK Institute in Finland. “Therefore, one would expect that these effects might show up also in the mortality rates. However, up till now there has not been measured evidence of the effects of specific sports on the all-cause or cardiovascular disease mortality.”

In addition to racket sports, the study also found that swimming reduced the risk of death from vascular disease by 41% and aerobics, which included dance and gymnastics, reduced heart disease risk by 36%. Interestingly, cyclists only showed a 15% risk reduction and there was NO significant reduction for runners or footballers.

Researchers calculated the risk reduction numbers in comparison with survey responders who did not participate in any of the sports during the same period.

Canadian personal trainer and nutritionist Jamie Logie, told Hoyt that the findings reinforce what he already knew. "Sports like swimming and aerobics tend to be at a higher intensity and this intensity increase appears to be what can help in preventing death from heart disease. The sports listed require more muscle use and a combination of aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Racket ball is the perfect example of a high-intensity type workout where you perform an all-out exertion for a certain time period followed by a slower rest/recovery phase. When you perform high-intensity interval training like this, it increases your metabolic rate and lowers your insulin resistance. This helps create skeletal muscle adaption’s which help you burn more fat and create glucose tolerance."

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