Play tennis for life

November 30, 2016

A just-released study suggest that regularly playing racquet sports such as tennis can help stave off death, while sports such as soccer and running may not help people live longer.

The study, by Oxford University and researchers in Finland and Australia and reported in the British newspaper The Telegraph, followed more than 80,000 people for an average of nine years to find out if certain sports protected them against early death. People who played racquet sports regularly were least likely to die over the study period, the report found, reducing their individual risk by 47 percent compared to people who did not exercise.

Swimmers reduced their chance of death by 28 percent, aerobics participants by 27 percent and cyclists by 15 percent, according to the study. Running, soccer, and rugby appeared to have no impact at all on dying early.

Scientists speculate that one of the reasons racquet sports such as tennis may help prevent early death is the social aspect that goes with playing it, which involves meeting other players at clubs, facilities and parks, and often leads to organized activities beyond the court. Tennis participants, the study suggests, generally have larger social networks and keep up activities later in life—both of which tend to be good for health.

In contrast, people who play team sports when younger often do not move on to a new sport once they stop playing. They become spectators of their chosen sport, rather than participants, and lose the health benefits the sport provided them in their younger days.

“We think racquet sports not only offer the usual physiological benefts, but also offer additional mental health and social benefits, perhaps unique to these sports,” Dr. Charlie Foster, associate professor of Physical Activity and Population Health at Oxford, told The Telegraph.

The research was published Nov. 28 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It further supports findings and research assembled in recent years by Dr. Jack Groppel, the tennis industry’s Health & Wellness Advisor, who published a widely distributed “34 Reasons to Play Tennis,” available at