From Ergo Log
With all the bad press about drugs, doping, over-training and accidents among high-level athletes you might think that they live less long than ordinary mortals, but according to sports scientists at the University of Zaragoza in Spain elite athletes actually live longer than normal. The Spanish researchers will publish an article on their findings soon in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Exercise & life extension
Exercise is good for you, and nearly all studies show that more exercise means a longer and healthier life. But scientists are not yet in agreement as to whether high-intensity exercise is healthy for you. To be more exact: that a little intensive exercise is healthy, no one disputes. But whether extensive high-intensity exercise is healthy? The debate continues.
One way to study the health effects of large amounts of intensive exercise is to follow large groups of high-level athletes. Of course, you have to take into account the effect of other lifestyle factors, but so be it. We have to start somewhere.
The Spanish researchers used a number of studies, including ones on football players, Tour de France participants and Olympic athletes. They had data on 42,807 athletes in total, and they discovered that the mortality risk was a third less among these athletes than the population as a whole.
High-level athletes were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, the researchers discovered. That isn’t so surprising, since nearly all studies show that exercise protects against fatal heart attacks and strokes. It’s not much of a surprise either that high-level sports also reduces the chances of dying from cancer.
“The evidence available indicates that elite athletes (mostly men) live longer than the general population, which suggests that the beneficial health effects of exercise, particularly in decreasing CVD and cancer risk, are not necessarily confined to moderate doses”, the researchers conclude. “Future studies might elucidate whether the present high demands of professional sports participation also translate into an actual longevity and health benefit.”
Mayo Clin Proc. 2014 Aug 6. pii: S0025-6196(14)00519-9. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.06.004. [Epub ahead of print].