Olympic athletes live a few years longer than most, study finds

A recent retrospective study has found that Olympic athletes live longer than the average population – but just 2.8 years longer, Medpage Today reported.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia analyzed records from the OlyMADMen consortium of Olympic historians, looking at information from 15,174 Olympic athletes from nine different countries who had won medals between 1896 and 2010.  They compared the data from the athletes to cohorts from the general population.

Overall, medalists from eight of the nine countries had a better survival advantage than control subjects, regardless of whether or not the athletes won a gold, silver or bronze medal.  However, Olympic athletes who medaled in endurance and mixed sports – such as soccer and running – had an even greater survival advantage compared to the control subjects.

The researchers hypothesized that the survival advantage may be explained by genetic factors and a physical and health lifestyle.  They also cautioned that training and physical acitivity may only make up a small portion of athletes’ lives, as they may have higher rates of smoking, heart disease and other problems when they go into retirement.

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