COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- A University of South Carolina study shows that swimming cuts men’s mortality risk by about 50 percent over men who run or walk to stay in shape, as well as over their sedentary peers.

“This is the first report that examined mortality rates among swimmers in comparison with other types of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle,” says Steven N. Blair, lead researcher and professor in exercise science and biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of South Carolina. “We conclude that men who swim for exercise have better survival rates than their sedentary peers.”

The study examined medical and physical activity data on 40,000 men, ranging from 20 to 90 years old. After adjusting for age, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake and family history of cardiovascular disease, the swimmers had a 53 percent, 50 percent and 49 percent lower mortality risk than men who were sedentary, walkers or runners, respectively. The study also found that regular swimmers had higher rates of cardio-respiratory fitness than walkers and sedentary people.