According to a recent study by British researchers, high-level exercise increases life expectancy. But not all disciplines are created equal.
According to their work, led by Professor Lees Mayhew, Head of Research at the UK’s International Center for Longevity, top athletes live on average up to 13% longer than the rest of the population.
To reach this conclusion, the scientists analyzed data from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), covering the period from 1841 to 2020, and those relating only to professional athletes who play football or cricket. Rugby, tennis, golf, boxing, or horse racing.
Favorite tennis and golf
At the top of the ranking of life-prolonging sports, we find … tennis. Since 1968 – the year Wimbledon became the first tournament to welcome professionals – the life expectancy of players has increased by 25%, it determines study.
On the second level of the podium there are golfers. The researchers note that these two sports provide a good life expectancy because they “can be practiced at a high level until a relatively late age”.
Rugby players are in third place, surprisingly. Despite the trauma they experienced during matches and training, the life expectancy of rugby players has risen from 6% longer than average before the 1960s to about 11% today. Next come the cricketers.
For their part, soccer players have a similar life expectancy to the general population. And today’s players live much less than those who played before the 1960s, and the authors explained that at that time the players played fewer matches, and, accordingly, the risk of injury was lower.
Boxing and horse riding are at the bottom of the ranking
In terms of riders, they live on average 12% shorter than other professional athletes. Although races are less dangerous today than they were in the 20th century, violent falls on horseback are still frequent.
As for boxers, it is unsurprising that they have the lowest life expectancy. On average, they will live 25% shorter than other men who play high-performance sports.
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