Can pickleball, tennis and other racquet sports really help you live longer?

Racquet sports are clearly having a moment. The pickleball revolution is continuing apace, with partnerships, leagues and playing courts springing up seemingly by the day. And in a world without Roger Federer and Serena Williams, tennis has maintained its popularity among most age groups, new polling suggests.

What’s more, research suggests that picking up a racquet might be among the best decisions a person can make for their health, according to two oft-cited studies. One involving roughly 80,000 people showed that racquet sports were correlated with a reduction in all-cause mortality; another that compared racquet sports to other forms of exercise found that participants who played tennis and — yes — badminton lived longer than cyclists, soccer players, joggers and swimmers.

But evidence for the long-term health effects of specific sports, the studies acknowledge, is lacking. So, Northeastern Global News asked Art Kramer, psychology professor and director for the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health, who studies exercise and its effects on the body and brain, for some perspective on these findings and the larger literature.

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

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