The study found that racquet sports – badminton, tennis and squash – contribute more to longevity than other forms of exercise.
Compared to a sample group that didn’t exercise, racquet sport players were 47 percent less likely to die from any cause.
And when the researchers looked at risk of death from heart disease and stroke, they found that playing racquet sports was associated with a 56 percent lower risk.
Racquet sports ranked higher than cycling, swimming, aerobics, dance, running, jogging, soccer and rugby.
The researchers from the University of Oxford analyzed data from 11 nationally representative annual health surveys for England and Scotland, carried out between 1994 and 2008.
In all, the analysis included 80,306 adults with an average age of 52. In each of the surveys, participants were quizzed about what type and how much physical activity they had done in the preceding four weeks, and whether it had been enough to make them breathless and sweaty.
You can read the full report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.