Sunday, March 17, 2013

UK - Olympians Live Longer Than The Rest Of Us, Study

Olympians live longer than the general population, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.

Olympians live longer than the general population, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.

The study found Olympic medalists live an average of 2.8 years longer than the general population, regardless of country of origin, color of medal won, or type of sport played.

Researchers compared life expectancy among 15,174 Olympic athletes who won medals between 1896 and 2010 with general population groups matched by country, sex, and age.

All medalists lived an average of 2.8 years longer – a significant survival advantage over the general population in eight out of the nine countries studied.

Gold, silver and bronze medalists enjoyed roughly the same survival advantage, as did medalists in both endurance and mixed sports. Medalists in power sports such as gymnastics and tennis had a smaller, but still significant, advantage over the general population.

“There are many possible explanations including genetic factors, physical activity, healthy lifestyle, and the wealth and status that come from international sporting glory,” said lead author Professor Philip Clarke from the University of Melbourne, who added that their study was not designed to determine why Olympic athletes live longer.

“Perhaps the one thing those of us who do not make the Olympic team can do to increase our life expectancy is to undertake regular exercise. This has been shown to decrease the risk of big killers like type 2 diabetes,” he said.

In an accompanying editorial, two public health experts write that people who do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity also have a survival advantage compared with the inactive general population. Estimates range from just under a year to several years.

But they argue that, compared with the successes that have been achieved in tobacco control, “our inability to improve physical activity is a public health failure, and it is not yet taken seriously enough by many in government and in the medical establishment.”

Source: BMJ;

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