Tennis court© Unsplash

Your Hobbies Can Stave Off An Early Death, Says Study

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

A new study has confirmed what our mothers have been yelling at us all the while we spent fusing with the couch as Netflix played another inane rom-com about people wanting dates for their friend’s wedding. Hobbies that require you to be active physically can reduce the risk of early death.

Researchers from National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Aging, Maryland, analysed data obtained from 272,550 adults, aged between 59 and 82.

According to the study, the researchers concluded that taking some time off for yourself, to indulge in a physical activity, will make a marked difference in the risk of death.

The researchers tracked seven different activities, including running, walking, cycling, swimming, racquet, sports, golf, and other aerobic exercises.

“Our comprehensive analysis of more than 270,000 older adults with a mean of 12 years of follow-up demonstrates the benefits associated with participating in any of these leisure time physical activity types for reducing mortality risk, including cardiovascular and cancer mortality, among older populations,” reads the published study.

The team observed the participants’ metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours which is a standardised way of measuring an amount of energy expanded.

Across all categories, a 13 percent reduction in mortality risk from any cause was seen, compared with no participation in these activities. This result was based on 7.5-15 MET hours of activity a week, which is the standard amount recommended by US health agencies.

The study also breaks down the findings by activity type and cause of death. For instance, it’s recorded that running showed the greatest reduction in risk of dying of cancer, with a drop of 19 percent on an average. Similarly, racquet sports, like tennis or squash, were found to be particularly good for avoiding an early death with 16 percent reduction across all causes and 27 percent reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.

“These activities both require synchronized action from many muscles for correct form, and racquet sports also require hand-eye coordination and intermittent bursts of very high intensity, which may additionally improve physical functioning,” write the researchers.

Participants who didn’t meet the recommended number of hours, but were still recorded as taking part in some form of physical activity regularly, were shown to have a 5 percent reduction across all mortality risks, compared with those who didn’t participate in any activity.

Before you head off to the nearest Decathlon to stock up on tennis rackets, and cute court-appropriate outfits, know that there’s an important factor that you should keep in mind before picking any of the aforementioned physical activity.

The researchers made a note that acknowledged the fact that all physical activities stand a chance of reducing risk of mortality in different percentages, but the importance needs to be given to picking something that you enjoy. They placed special emphasis on this as its much more likely that you’ll stick with an activity that you like and enjoy and will keep it up for a long time.