What Sport Is Better For Your Health?

6 December 2016
Which offers the most life-saving benefits – cycling, swimming, tennis, aerobics, football or running?

New research suggests racquet sports such as tennis, squash, and badminton are the healthiest sports to participate in.

An international study of over 80,000 adults over 30 years of age found that the risk of death from any cause was 47 per cent lower among those who played racquet sports, compared to those that didn’t.

Racquet sport players were also found to be 56 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease (heart disease), which as we know is on the rise as a cause of death in Australia.

Swimming, aerobics, and cycling were also found to offer life-saving benefits, but the study was inconclusive about the benefits of running and football.

Study Results

While the jury is still out on running and football (the researchers need more time track the participants of those activities), the results are in for the other sports:

Risk of premature death from any cause (compared to those that don’t partake in the corresponding sport):

  • Racquet Sports (tennis, squash, badminton): 47% lower
  • Swimming: 28% lower
  • Aerobics: 27% lower
  • Cycling: 15% lower


Risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease (compared to those that don’t partake in the corresponding sport):

  • Racquet Sports (tennis, squash, badminton): 56% lower
  • Swimming: 41% lower
  • Aerobics: 36% lower


This international study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The research was led by the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, UKK Institute (Finland), University of Edinburgh, and four other international universities.


emmanuel“Our findings indicate that it’s not only how much and how often, but also what type of exercise you do that seems to make the difference.

“Participation in specific sports may have various benefits for health.

“These observations with the existing evidence should support the sport community together with other sectors to design and implement effective health enhancing exercise programs and physical activity in general.”

– (Senior Author, Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, of the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney Faculty of Health Sciences and School of Public Health)

Australian Sport Participation

An estimated 60% of Australians aged over 15 years old – or 11.1 million people – participate in sport or physical recreation at least once a year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2015).

The top 20 most popular sports/activities for Australians are:

Rank Activity Estimated Number
of People
1 Walking for exercise 3,544,900
2 Fitness / Gym 3,214,000
3 Jogging / Running 1,363,100
4 Swimming / Diving 1,174,800
5 Cycling / BMXing 1,151,900
6 Golf 732,000
7 Tennis (indoor and outdoor) 563,100
8 Outdoor soccer 438,800
9 Netball (Indoor and outdoor) 413,800
10 Basketball (indoor & outdoor) 406,100
11 Yoga 317,500
12 Football sports (excluding, rugby, soccer, Australian Rules football) 297,700
13 Bush walking 285,600
14 Dancing / Ballet 237,200
15 Australian Rules football 224,000
16 Martial arts 220,400
17 Outdoor cricket 219,700
18 Indoor soccer 218,800
19 Pilates 197,800
20 Surf Sports 196,000

How to get discounts on sportswear and gym memberships through your health insurance

As you’d expect, your health insurer actually wants you to be fit and healthy (because you’ll be less likely to claim).

To encourage members to exercise, many health insurers offer discounts on gym memberships and sportswear products. Some even offer free fitness classes:

Source: Medibank

Wellness programs that have been specifically recommended by a medical practitioner can also be covered under some extras policies.

Investment Poll: What are Australians investing in

Property, cash, stocks, bonds, arts and antiques… With so many investment options available today, we had to wonder how Australians are building their wealth.

Take this quick poll to find out what are some of the popular investments.

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