Which type of exercise is best if you want to live longer?

Doing regular cardiovascular exercise at a moderate intensity can improve your mood for up to 12 hours afterwards. All forms of exercise are beneficial to health; however, researchers have identified that those that play team sports may gain a greater benefit from exercise than those who exercise alone.

It is believed that the social interaction involved in team sports is vital in imparting a more positive overall effect on your health. This ties in with research performed on centenarians and individuals living in regions of the globe where people have unusually long lifespans. This research consistenly shows that good social integration is probably the number one predictor of longevity. It makes sense then, that those who combine social intereaction with exercise, which is also linked to longevity, would accumulate even greater benefits.

Physio Clinic Naas Exercise & Longevity

The study analysed data on 8,500 adults from the Copenhagen City Heart Study.

The participants were asked to identify their primary form of exercise. After collating the data, the researchers noticed a clear correlation between social sports and longevity.

Those participating in social sports fare better in terms of longevity & health

Compared to sedentary people, the authors reported that those that played tennis increased their lifespan by 9.7 years, followed by badminton (6.2 years), soccer (4.7 years), cycling (3.7 years), swimming (3.4 years), jogging (3.2 years), calisthenics (3.1 years) and health club activities (1.5 years).

Depressingly for us gym goers, they finished last in terms of longevity despite reporting the most overall weekly acitivity.

Another study of 1.2 million people reinforced the findings from the above study. The authors analysed the effect of different types of exercise on overall mental health.

The list below indicate how people reported feeling after a month of performing these activities. The results indicate the percentage of fewer poor mental health days; for example, those participating in team sports reported 22.3 percent fewer bad days than those who did not exercise.)

  • Team sports: 22.3 percent
  • Cycling: 21.6 percent
  • Aerobic or gym exercise: 20.1 percent (does not include indoor bikes or treadmills)
  • Running or jogging: 19 percent
  • Recreational sports: 18.9 percent
  • Winter or water sports: 18 percent
  • Walking: 17.7 percent
  • Household chores: 11.8 percent

The take home point is that any kind of exercise will have benefits in terms of longevity, but for those who tend to only attend the gym, it may be adviseable to add in some form of social element to your exercise routine such as tennis or 5-a-side football.

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