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Participation in Specific Sports Tied to Significant Health Benefits

Racquet sports, swimming, and aerobics tied to lower risk of early death in study

woman playing tennis

THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Participation in specific sports may have significant benefits for public health, according to a study published online Nov. 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study included data from 80,306 adults over 30 years of age (average age, 52) in England and Scotland. The information was collected between 1994 and 2008.

The researchers found that racquet sports were associated with an almost 50 percent lower risk of death from any cause, and a 56 percent reduction in cardiovascular-disease mortality (hazard ratios [HRs], 0.53 and 0.44, respectively). In addition to the benefit from racquet sports, the investigators also saw that swimming and aerobics each were associated with a nearly 30 percent lower risk of premature death from any cause (HRs, 0.72 and 0.73, respectively). Bicyclists had 15 percent lower odds of dying early (HR, 0.85). Deaths from cardiovascular disease, in particular, were 41 percent lower among swimmers and 36 percent lower among those who did aerobics (HRs, 0.59 and 0.64, respectively).

"Our findings indicate that it's not only how much and how often, but also what type of exercise you do that seems to make the difference," senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Sydney, said in a university news release. "Participation in specific sports may have various benefits for health. These observations with the existing evidence should support the sport community together with other sectors to design and implement effective health-enhancing exercise programs and physical activity in general."

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