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The associations between participation in certain sports and lower mortality are not explained by affluence and other socioeconomic factors
  1. Emmanuel Stamatakis1⇑,
  2. Paul Kelly2,
  3. Sylvia Titze3,
  4. Zeljko Pedisic4,
  5. Adrian Bauman1,
  6. Charlie Foster5,
  7. Mark Hamer6,
  8. Melvyn Hillsdon7,
  9. Pekka Oja8
  1. 1 Charles Perkins Centre, Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2 Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
  4. 4 Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
  5. 5 Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  6. 6 School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  7. 7 Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  8. 8 UKK Institute, Tampere, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis, Charles Perkins Centre, Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia; emmanuel.stamatakis{at}

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Our recent paper1 examined the type-specific associations between sports and all cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality. Among the wide media attention,2 CNN reported our finding as ‘Swimming, aerobics, racquet sports slash risk of death’3 and those three sports that showed the largest reductions in mortality risk (as indicated by the HR value).4 Running and football (soccer)/rugby5 showed limited beneficial associations with mortality. While it was beyond the capacity and scope of our research to undertake comparisons between different sports and explain why these three specific types of sports were associated with the largest reductions in risk, much of the media commentary2 was consumed with aetiological explanations3 5–7 of the beneficial associations that participation in certain sports conferred. On the other hand, an alternative explanation is that our findings of lower mortality did not reflect the health attributes of the examined sports but, instead, they were related to socioeconomic characteristics of the participants of certain sports. For example, as football is perceived to be lower social status sports, the smaller association with mortality could be seen as an indication that our models were not adequately adjusted for socioeconomic status and affluence. Racquet sports, aerobics and swimming usually involve paying for participation and/or equipment and as such may indicate …

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  • Funding ES is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council through a Senior Research Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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