Health and Fitness Comparisons Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Long-Term Participation in Four Different Sports

Author: Peixuan Zheng1, Lei Zhang2,3, Feng Shi4, Kaiwen Man5, Elroy J Aguiar1
1 Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA.
2 Department of Sports Science, Jeonbuk National University, Jeonju-si, SOUTH KOREA.
3 College of Physical Education (main campus), Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, CHINA.
4 Physical Education College of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, CHINA.
5 Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA.
Conference/Journal: Int J Exerc Sci
Date published: 2022 Jul 1
Other: Volume ID: 15 , Issue ID: 6 , Pages: 1028-1039 , Word Count: 259

Physical activity is known to confer numerous health benefits. However, few studies have assessed the prolonged impact of participation in different sports on health and fitness. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to compare the impact of long-term participation (i.e., ≥9 years) in four different sports, including two traditional Chinese (Tai Chi; diabolo) and two modern sports (aerobics; track and field [TF]) on health and fitness measures among middle-aged and older adults. Participants (n=252, 56.6±8.5y, 66% female) completed the following measures: height, weight, BMI, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio (WHR), body fat%, resting blood pressure (BP) and heart rate, vital capacity, grip strength, reaction time, flexibility, balance. Compared to Tai Chi, aerobics was associated with lower systolic BP and fat%, and greater vital capacity, while TF was associated with lower systolic BP, shorter reaction time, greater vital capacity and better balance (p-values<0.05). Diabolo was associated with lower WHR compared to aerobics and Tai Chi, and greater vital capacity than Tai Chi (p-values<0.05). No significant differences were observed across sports in other measures. Long-term participation in four sports might have different effects on BP, vital capacity, balance, reaction time, body fat, and central adiposity. Individuals who prefer to choose traditional sports (Tai Chi, diabolo) may anticipate similar long-term effects on resting heart rate, BMI, muscle mass, and grip strength compared to those who perform modern sports (aerobics, TF). Information presented in this study may be valuable when designing population, group and individually-tailored PA recommendations in culturally diverse individuals.

Keywords: Tai Chi; exercise; health; physical fitness; sports.

PMID: 36159338 PMCID: PMC9458280