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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Sports participation and lower death rates?: 01/30/2017

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

Swimming, racquet sports, aerobics, and cycling was associated with lower death rates compared to non-participation by adults in an array of sports, finds an interesting, recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study found cycling was associated with the most significant reduction in all-cause mortality compared to non-participation in a range of sports while swimming, racquet sports, and aerobics finished second, third and fourth in terms of their preventive impact.

The study also found swimming, racquet sports, and aerobics reduced death from heart disease and stroke significantly more than non-participation in an array of sports activities.

Conversely, the study's nine authors (who are from four nations) also found cycling, running/jogging, or soccer and rugby participation were not associated with a significantly reduced risk of death from heart disease and stroke compared to non-participation in an array of sports.

The authors also found inconsistent associations between the intensity, duration, and volume of participation in various sports and a reduction in all cause-mortality and heart disease-related deaths.

The study's findings additionally assessed some physical activities that are not sports-related. For example, the findings suggest participating in demanding domestic chores, as well as gardening, do-it-yourself home maintenance, and walking were not associated with a decreased risk in heart disease and overall causes of death compared to non-participation.

Overall, the authors concluded (and we quote) 'These findings demonstrate participation in specific sports may have significant benefit for public health' (end of quote). The study's authors also suggested health care professionals should encourage patients to be more involved in regular sports and exercise as a therapeutic way to stay healthy.

The study's findings are derived from several, nationally representative, annual health surveys of about 80,000 British adults (called The Health Survey for England and The Health Survey for Scotland) between 1994-2008. Participant data was tracked for an average of nine years within these surveys.

The authors report the study is observational and its findings are derived from survey participant self-reporting. The authors acknowledge these and other study limitations make it difficult to explain why there may be health benefits of participation in some sports versus non-participation.

Meanwhile, the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research provides a website about starting a fitness program and staying motivated within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's sports fitness health topic page.

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research also provides tips on measuring your level of fitness in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's sports fitness health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's sports fitness health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available within the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about sports fitness as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's sports fitness health topic page, please type 'sports' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'sports fitness (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to: exercise and physical fitness; exercise for children; exercise for seniors; and sports safety.

Overall, the study's findings are well-timed with New Years resolutions to exercise more and integrate physical fitness into one's life. Certainly, the findings suggest the health benefits of participation in some sports activities may be worth the effort.

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It was nice to be with you and happy new year! Please join us here next week and here's to your health!