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Sports that could save your life!

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Running, aerobics, football, athletics or swimming? New research reveals which has most benefits.

Cycling, swimming, aerobics and racquet sports offer life saving benefits compared to running and football, international research claims.

Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study also found that death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) was reduced in people who participated in swimming, racquet sports and aerobics.

The study examined 80,000 adults older than 30 to investigate the link between participation in six different ‘exercise disciplines’ and death, including cycling, swimming, racquet sports, aerobics, football and running. The researchers drew on responses from 11 nationally representative annual health surveys for England and Scotland, carried out between 1994 and 2008.

Results:

Compared with study participants who did not participate in the corresponding sport, risk of death from any cause was:

47% lower among those who played racquet sports (tennis, squash, badminton);

28% among swimmers;

27% lower among those who participated in aerobics; and

15% lower among cyclists.

Compared with study participants who did not participate in the corresponding sport, risk of death from cardiovascular disease was:

56% lower among those who played racquet sports;

41% lower among swimmers; and

36% lower among those who participated in aerobics.

“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,” said senior author Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences and School of Public Health at the University of Sydney.

“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,” he said.

Future research should aim to further strengthen the sport-specific evidence base and understanding of how to enable greater sports participation for people from all age groups and walks of life.

This research was a large scale collaboration between University of Sydney, University of Oxford, UKK Institute (Finland), University of Edinburgh, and four other international universities.

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