Science Says This Sport Is Best For Increasing Life Expectancy

It's a well-known fact that exercise can lengthen your life. Studies have been conducted for years showing a positive correlation between movement and health. For example, the British Journal of Medicine studied the associations between cardiovascular disease mortality and exercise. As expected, it showed activity had a significant reduction in mortality. But is there one sport that might trump all the rest of them? According to research, tennis will give you the most longevity for your effort.

Tennis is a relatively easy-to-learn racket sport played against another player or with a partner, where a ball is hit back and forth between the teams. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the sport's origins can be traced back to 12th century France. However, what about tennis makes it so helpful in adding years to your life? While the research is still out, it's likely one of those unexpected benefits of group workouts, since the sport combines socialization with physical exertion.

Tennis is the best sport to increase life expectancy

When you think of sports that will add to your life expectancy, swimming, running, and walking might be some of the first that pop into your head. However, according to a 2018 Danish study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, it's not the solitary sports that add the most time; it's the social ones. Tennis was the reigning king — with a total of 9.7 years of life expectancy gain.

The study included questionnaires that were followed up after 25 years. However, it didn't go into detail about the why behind tennis adding years to your life. Interestingly, though, social sports were the ones that gave participants the greatest gains. This was furthered by a 2019 study in Japan that showed exercise done with family and friends is positively correlated with life expectancy. Cardiologist James H O'Keefe, Jr. MD also weighed in on the topic on Saint Luke's Newsroom. "We know from other research that social support provides stress mitigation. So being with other people, playing and interacting with them, as you do when you play games that require a partner or a team, probably has unique psychological and physiological effects."

Tennis can be highly competitive, fun, and social — meaning you get your exercise, relieve stress, and add nearly a decade to your life expectancy. But if tennis isn't your cup of tea, it isn't the only sport you can try to get a few more happy years.

Additional sports to add years to your life

If you don't want to get in on the tennis game, that doesn't mean you're destined to lose years. Other social sports like soccer and badminton were noted in the study to increase your life by about five to six years, according to the Mayo Clinic Proceeding. Just having a fun game of badminton or playing a pickup game of soccer can have great gains when it comes to improving your physical and mental health.

Of course, not everyone is all in for social sports. While solitary sports aren't going to give you the decade that tennis might, they will allow you to live longer than if you just sit around watching your favorite TV shows all day. While cycling might have been the winner in solidary sports at 3.7, swimming, jogging, and calisthenics all offered a three-year boost. So, while tennis might give you the most bang for your buck, any type of exercise is going to help you stay healthier and live a little longer.

In short, if you're looking to increase your life expectancy, you might want to consider joining a racket sport like tennis. Along with all the other real health benefits of tennis, it can increase life expectancy by nearly a decade. But any social sport could make a huge difference in your quality of life.