The study from the National Cancer Institute analyzed responses from over 272,000 people between the ages of 59 and 82 who completed questionnaires about their leisure time activities as part of the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, a longitudinal study of the relationship between diet and health.

The study researchers followed participants for a dozen or so years and analyzed health records for deaths from cancer, heart disease and any cause.

Any combination of aerobic-based activity done for the recommended amount of time per week was associated with a 13% lower risk of death from any cause when compared with doing none of the activities, the researchers found.

Aerobic activity done for the recommended amount of time per week was associated with 13% lower risk of death from any cause compared with inactivity, the study said.

Playing racket sports had the highest return for cardiovascular issues: There was a 27% reduction in risk for death from heart disease and a 16% reduction in early death. The largest reduction in cancer risk (19%) was associated with running, while running reduced risk of an early death by 15%, the study said.

Walking for exercise was the most beneficial for lowering the risk of early death after racket sports and running, the study found.

All the activities studied were associated with some lower risks of death, the study found.

The best fitness tracker of 2022 (Courtesy CNN Underscored)

“Participation in any of the activities was associated with lower mortality in comparison with those who did not participate in each activity, including moderate-intensity activities,” wrote study author Eleanor Watts, a postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study could only show an association, not a full cause and effect.


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