Jogging and tennis to live longer

Jogging and tennis to live longer


The comparison of the impact of different activities reveals that racquet sports and running are associated with a strong reduction in the risk of premature mortality.

It is well established that leisure-time physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer and premature mortality. 

Accordingly, the World Organization of Health recommends that:

  1. Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week ( brisk walking, for example) or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (jogging, for example). 
  2. To achieve additional benefits, the duration of these activities should be increased to 300 minutes per week for moderate exercise and 150 minutes per week for higher intensity exercise.
  3. Muscle-strengthening exercises involving major muscle groups should be done at least two days a week.

Different types of activity

Despite strong evidence for the beneficial role of physical activity on longevity, it is unclear whether all types of activity are equivalent (equal amount) or whether some of them may offer superior health benefits.&nbsp ; 

To answer this question, a team of researchers from the US National Cancer Institute analyzed data collected from 272,500 people aged 59-82 who participated in the (NIH)–AARP Diet and Health Study since 1995.(1)

Using questionnaires, they examined the correlation between seven different types of physical activity and the risk of mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality over a 12-year period.

The results first confirmed that regular activity, all sports combined, performed according to WHO recommendations (150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) is associated with a reduction significant risk of premature mortality. 

What is interesting is that this risk reduction seems to vary significantly depending on the type of activity performed, with running and racquet sports (tennis, squash, racquetball) offering the best protection (reduction 15 % of the risk), ahead of walking (9 %), golf (7 %), swimming (5 %) and cycling (3 %).  

< p>The study also shows that the impact of these different types of exercise varies according to the cause of death: racket sports greatly reduce the risk of premature death linked to cardiovascular diseases (27%), but they have no significant effect on cancer-related mortality, while running is particularly effective in reducing the risk of cancer-related mortality (20%).  

Being active, whatever regardless of the type of activity, is positive for health, but it seems that higher intensity activities are the most likely to offer the greatest benefits.

Weekend Athletes

For many people, work and family responsibilities mean that the weekend is the only appropriate time to indulge in physical activity.   

Is being physically active a day or two a week enough to benefit from the reduction in mortality risk conferred by exercise? The good news is that it seems so.

For example, one study showed a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality risk for “weekend athletes”, very close to 35% for regularly active people(2). ; 

The protection is therefore slightly less, but it is still very significant and shows how playing a sport, even just one or two days a week, is essential for good health. and improve life expectancy.

♦ (1) Watts EL et al. Association of leisure time physical activity types and risks of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality among older adults. JAMA Netw Open 2022; 5: e2228510. 

♦ (2) O’Donovan G et al. Association of “weekend warrior” and other leisure time physical activity patterns with risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality. JAMA Intern. Med. 2017; 177: 335-342.