The Best Sport For A Longer Life

H.V. Topspin

Playing tennis on a regular basis is now a verified way of living longer! According to the newspaper of record, the New York Times, (no political snarling out there) in an article by Gretchen Reynolds this past September, “Playing tennis and other sports that are social might add years to your life, according to a new epidemiological study of Danish men and women.

The study found that adults who reported frequently participating in tennis or other racket and team sports lived longer than people who were sedentary. But they also lived longer than people who took part in reliably healthy but often solitary activities such as jogging, swimming and cycling.”

The puzzling takeaway, at least on behalf of the writer, was the role social interactions contributed to the results, quoting from the article, “One widely publicized 2017 study of more than 80,000 British men and women found that those who played racket sports tended to outlive those who jogged.”

Runners gained a measly 3.2 years, hardly worth the time and effort. (As my wrestling coach remarked about the sport of track “any contest that begins with a gun and ends with a rope, is not for me.” Truer words were never spoken, in my humble opinion.) The evidence is clear that tennis players got a real boost:

“But these gains (for runners) were notably less than for playing tennis, which was linked to 9.7 added years of life, or badminton, which was linked to an extra 6.2 years, or soccer, which added almost five years to players’ lives. These associations remained unchanged even when the researchers controlled for people’s education, socioeconomic status and age.”

So, case closed. Keep playing tennis. Moreover, the aspect of socialization is likely the key boosting factor as the authors noted, “Raising your heart rate is important” for health, he says. “But it looks like connecting with other people is, too. Especially with an overhead smash.” Not true about the overhead, as I added that, but an overhead smash can connect and certainly raises the heartrate of the person on the receiving end so…

Most club players play doubles and that in itself generates a definite amount of social interaction. Particularly, the haggling over who gets stuck opening balls for the match. (After all, two dollars was a lot of money 50 years ago when we were all learning to play the sport.) Plus, the spirited verbal ejaculations during points when line calls are missed and the inveterate back and forth during the between game changeovers. Moreover, the SaddleBrooke Tennis Club membership is a hotbed of social activity with all the formal and informal socialization that is omnipresent.

But wait, now that you have great news regarding your favorite outdoor sporting activity, another study reveals that weight lifting is better for heart health than running. According to an article in the London Telegraph:

“Scientists looking at the health records of more than 4,000 people have concluded that, while both forms of exercise reduce the risk of developing heart disease, static activities such as weight lifting or press-ups have a greater effect than an equivalent amount of dynamic exercise such as running, walking or cycling. The research challenges commonly held assumption that so-called ‘cardiovascular’ pursuits like running are of greatest benefit to the heart.”

So, strike two on this jogging nonsense, wouldn’t you say? Sure, jogging was good for Nike and its founder and the University of Oregon, but think of all those shoes that you have to buy as they wear out so fast and the time spent running alone when you could be getting better health benefits by lifting two-ounce tennis balls and a ten-ounce tennis racquet on a regular basis! The weightlifting article did not elucidate on the amount of weight one had to lift to get the health benefits so we make a generous assumption.

Plus, the social aspect of hoisting 12-ounce cans of libation post-match with your bosom buddies, cannot be discounted.