If you want to try to extend your life, a new study suggests that taking up racquet sports might help.

Researchers found that people who played racquet sports — badminton, squash, tennis — had an almost 50 percent lower risk of dying from any cause during the 15-year study. And playing a racquet sport was linked to a 56 percent lower risk of death from heart disease during the study period.

“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,” said study senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis. He is an associate professor at the University of Sydney, Australia.

“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,” he said in a university news release.

The study included data from 80,000 adults over 30 years of age (average age 52) in England and Scotland. The information was collected between 1994 and 2008.

The researchers hoped to assess the link between certain types of sports and longevity. However, the study could not prove cause and effect.

In addition to the benefit from racquet sports, the investigators also saw that swimming and aerobics each were associated with a nearly 30 percent lower risk of premature death from any cause. Bicyclists had 15 percent lower odds of dying early.

Deaths from heart disease, in particular, were 41 percent lower among swimmers and 36 percent lower among those who did aerobics, the findings showed.

The study was published Nov. 29 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

More information

The American Heart Association outlines the benefits of physical activity.