Mounds of evidence show that being socially engaged is good for your health. And, there is as much or more data that demonstrate the value of exercise. The New York Times reports on the latest evidence, which shows that people who engage in social sports live longer than people who engage in solo sports.
Of course, you cannot know how many more years you will live or whether you will in fact live longer because you play tennis rather than jog, much less hang out on the sofa. But a new observational study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, of 8,600 Danish men and women, finds that people who engage in social sports, such as tennis and soccer, live longer than people who jog and bike ride. And, it should go without saying that those who exercise lived longer than those who are sedentary.
So how many more years of life are we talking for people who exercise? The researchers found that bikers live 3.7 years longer and joggers live 3.2 years longer than people who don’t exercise.
People who play tennis live 9.7 years longer than people who are sedentary; people who play badminton live 6.2 years longer, and people who play soccer live 5 years longer.
Another recent study of 80,306 British men and women also found that people who engage in racket sports live longer than people who jog, a solitary sport.
Bottom line. We have no definitive evidence as to why people who play social sports tend to live longer than others who exercise. But, it is easy to conjecture that social sports reduce stress more than solitary sports. And, stress reduction generally brings with it psychological and physiological benefits. We do know that social engagement is great for your health and wellness, as is exercise, and that social isolation can cause premature death. Combining social interactions with exercise may give your health an extra big boost.
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