Athletes live longer: Study

Athletes tend to live longer than the general population, a new study has found.

The study featuring in the July 2010 issue of The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (JSAMS), published by Sports Medicine Australia, examined the mortality and longevity of elite athletes to understand the association between exercise training and survival rates.

Results showed elite endurance athletes, e.g. distance runners and cross country skiers; and elite mixed sports athletes who perform both endurance and power activities, e.g. soccer, ice hockey, basketball and short-to moderate term events in track and field, are more likely to live longer than the general population.

Elite power athletes, e.g. rugby players, baseballers, weightlifters, wrestlers, boxers and track and field throwers, may survive longer, similar to, or shorter than the general population depending on the type of sport and if they have used performance substances.

Author of the study, Masaru Teramoto says the study highlights how long term vigorous exercise training is associated with an increased survival rate within a specific group of athletes.

“The study showed that endurance and mixed-sports athletes tend to survive longer than the general population,” said Mr Teramoto.

“Lower cardiovascular disease mortality among these athletes seems to play a major role in their better survival rates.

“A possible explanation for this is that as they perform greater amounts of physical activity and possess a higher level of physical fitness, these attributes work as additional benefits of reducing all-cause mortality,” said Mr Teramoto.

Sports Medicine Australia Chief Executive Officer, Nello Marino said that the general population can learn from the behaviour of these athletes.

“The study highlights the importance of physical activity, no matter the extent, in everyone’s daily lives,” said Mr Marino.

“Physical activity performed at moderate intensity is associated with the reduced risk of all-cause mortality in the general population. It helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, hypertension and some types of cancers (e.g. colon, breast and lung cancers).

“It also reduces the risk of overweight and obesity and promotes maintaining a healthy body weight.

“For optimal health, every Australian should aim to do a combination of moderate and vigorous activities for at least 30 minutes on most, preferably all, days,” said Mr Marino.


  1. pigsmayfly pigsmayfly Australia says:

    The message has been delivered and although most of us realise that physical activity and a sensible approach to our diet goes a long way to ensuring good health, the masses prefer do nothing. The million dollar question is “how do we get a sedentary population active?”

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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