Racket sports best activities to boost your heart health

Thursday, December 1, 2016

We've got a few weeks until the end of the holiday overindulgence season, but it's not too early to think about burning off those extra calories stored as body mass.

The popularity of racquetball ebbs and flows, less demanding pickleball is gaining popularity and tennis seems to hold steady.

If longer life is the goal of your exercise program, however, you might want to give all three another look.

Racket sports scored well in a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which didn't look at overall health, but did examine the chances of death from cardiovascular disease among people who took part in various sports.

Running, the exercise most of us think about first, didn't seem to make a difference among the 43,705 women and 36,601 men tracked for nearly a decade.

Racket sports like tennis, badminton or squash made participants 47 percent less likely to die of any cause and 56 percent less likely to die as a result of cardiovascular disease compared to people who didn't play racket sports.

Next best is swimming, which make you 28 percent less likely to die for any reason, and 41 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

Other effective activities include aerobics, Zumba or other types of fitness classes, which make one 27 percent less likely to die of any cause and 36 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

The volunteers averaged 52 years of age, and 13.4 percent reported swimming, 9.9 percent cycling, 6.4 percent took aerobics, 5 percent were runners or joggers, 3.6 percent played racket sports and 3.1 percent played soccer or rugby -- it was in the United Kingdom, after all.

It is definitely better to get a minimum amount of exercise, according to the study, which found study subjects 27 percent less likely to die of any reason and 28 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease if they did exercise.

Overall, 8,790 of the study subject died during the 9.2 years they were followed, and 1,90 died from cardiovascular disease.

The study took factors such as age, education, body mass index, underlying physical and psychological health, smoking and drinking habits into account. Average age of participation varied with each sport, and that was taken into account as well.

Giving your spouse a health club membership for Christmas probably isn't a good idea, but perhaps a new racket and offer to join him or her at the court wouldn't be taken the wrong way.

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