Social connections look to be a major component of any sport’s longevity benefits.

James Bullen at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

What the researchers think the sports associated with the biggest increases in life expectancy — tennis (9.7 years), badminton (6.2 years) and soccer (4.7 years) have in common is that it takes two or more people to play them.

“The tennis players, they maybe take a beer or something else to drink after the game. They are two at least,” Dr Schnohr said.

Sports near the bottom of the list were more typically done alone, like jogging (3.2 years) and going to the gym (1.5 years).

“I go to a gym twice a week and I don’t talk to anybody. It’s very lonely in Denmark, I don’t know how it is in Australia. But it’s very lonely. You just do this and then you go home. And then you don’t get the social aspect. We think the social aspect is very important.”

There is good evidence that strong social bonds have a protective effect on a person’s health.

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