Cycling, swimming, aerobics and racquet sports for health.
New research led by the University of Sydney has found that specific types of exercise and sports offer life-saving benefits.
Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study found that people who engaged in cycling, swimming, aerobics and racquet sports had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers analysed data from 11 annual health surveys from England and Scotland carried out between 1994 and 2008 where participants were asked about what type and how much physical activity they had engaged in during the past four weeks. Afterwards, each participant was tracked for an average of nine years and the results were collated.
The results showed that risk of death was 47 per cent lower among those who played racquet sports, 28 per cent lower among swimmers, 27 per cent lower among people who did aerobics and 15 per cent lower among cyclists. These are compared to the survey partcipants who did not engage in any physical activity.
Perhaps interestingly, cycling, running and various codes of football were not significantly associated with risk of death from cardiovascular disease, though these sports may be beneficial for other health outcomes.
“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 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.”
It should be noted that this was an observational study rather than an experimental one, meaning it’s difficult to draw concrete conclusions. However, it’s more evidence that physical activity is critical in maintaining and improving health as we age.
Oja, P. et al. (2016). ‘Associations of specific types of sports and exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular-disease mortality: a cohort study of 80 306 British adults.’ Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096822