An invitation for the new year: Play tennis for a longer life

By the time you read this article, we will have ushered in another year. So, Happy New Year to you!

Having just had the opportunity to read yet another article about how playing tennis on a regular basis, at any level, can increase longevity by almost 10 years, I thought I'd take this opportunity to propose an invitation for the new year.

The majority of my articles have been geared toward tennis tips for folks already involved in playing. Well, the "longevity" article I referred to made me think this would be a great time to extend an invitation to anyone making New Year's resolutions about getting healthier - consider playing tennis!

According to an article from CBC Radio Canada and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, posted December 2018, new research regarding how physical activity impacts longevity suggests tennis is at the top of this "fountain of youth."

This latest research uses data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study (published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings). Over a 25-year period, some 9,000 people were monitored, tracking what physical activities they did and their age at death.

Although most any physical activity can help increase one's life span, research showed not all activities having equal results. The lead author for the research study, Dr. Peter Schnor, said, "Then we saw how they die off ... some die a little faster than other groups."

It seems that tennis can be cited best overall due to its many aspects that demand a multitude of things to happen during the course of play - movement, concentration, eye-to-hand coordination, decision making, and forward thinking, to name a few.

In all of this latest research, the one thing in common between the activities with the best life span increase (tennis at 9.7 years, badminton at 6.2 years, soccer at 4.7 years) is the social aspect of participating in them. They each take at least two people to play.

Unlike going to the gym (1.5 years), cycling, jogging (3.2 years), or swimming, the social interaction seems to play a big part in keeping us healthy, too.

A research fellow at the University of Sydney's Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, Professor Cathie Sherrington urges people to "stay as active as they can, for as long as possible." She added, "I think there is a little bit of a perception among some people that it's more appropriate to slow down. But really the evidence is that people should be doing exercise as intensive as they can manage."

On a personal note, I've had the pleasure to play tennis on many occasions with players in their 80s and 90s. It's terrific seeing them out there, enjoying the game and being with people, and I'm continually thankful to be involved in this "sport for a lifetime," and then some.

Here's to inviting you to play tennis for a longer, healthier life.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. lwmarino@hotmail.com


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