Racket or paddle sports may offer greatest benefits

January 2, 2019 Providence Health Team

Let’s be clear: All forms of exercise are good for you. Whether you run, swim, ride your bike or do yoga, you’re toning your muscles, feeding oxygen to your brain, and burning calories. Those are all good things.

But what’s the best sort of exercise you can do to extend your life? The answer may surprise you: Racket sports.

Less specifically, research has shown that team sports are somewhat better for your health than solo sports.

What is it about team sports?

The Copenhagen City Heart Study is a long-term observational study of 20,000 people launched by a group of researchers including Peter Schnohr, who was once among Denmark’s fastest runners. They were interested in learning which activities were healthiest over the long run. They collected thousands of serums, conducted substudies for certain conditions and performed lab tests.

One of the key findings, described in the National Library of Medicine, rates the effects on mortality of different sports. Here they are, showing the activity and the average years gained:

  • Tennis, 9.7 years
  • Badminton, 6.2 years
  • Soccer, 4.7 years
  • Cycling, 3.7 years
  • Swimming, 3.4 years
  • Jogging/running, 3.2 years
  • Calisthenics, 3.1 years
  • Health club activities, 1.5 years

The three activities with the greatest positive effects on longevity are social. The rest can be social, but often are solitary.

Again, any exercise is good for you. But it seems the greatest benefits go to those who engage in activities with others.

Why racket sports?

An article from the Harvard Medical School zeroes in on racket or paddle sports, including tennis, badminton and variants like pickleball.

Such sports are ideal for many older adults because they build both upper-body strength and lower-body strength. People of all ages can play racket or paddle sports, and you can modify the game to accommodate different fitness levels while keeping things fun.

One of the virtues of paddle sports is that they require lateral movement, which is different from some of the more popular forms of exercise. Lateral movement requires balance and weight-shifting, and becoming stronger in these areas can help reduce the risk of falls.

To learn more

Along with many other topics related to healthy exercise, we’ve written about:

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If you’re interested in getting started, or refining your exercise routines, you would benefit by consulting your health care provider. You can find a Providence provider in our online directory.

Providence offers a range of orthopedic and sports medicine services for athletes of all ages, including physical therapy, rehabilitation, concussion therapy and gait analysis.

Alaska: Providence Orthopedic Services

California: Providence Medical Institute, Sports Medicine Services

Montana: Providence Orthopedics

Oregon: Providence Sports Medicine

Washington: Providence Orthopedics & Sports Medicine InstituteProvidence Orthopedics, Spokane

You also can get a sports exam at a Providence Express Care clinic in Oregon and Washington.

 This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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