Sydney: The Olympians live longer, nearly three years longer, than the general population, regardless of the country of origin, the category of medals or specific sport, a study said.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne compared life expectancy among 15,174 Olympic athletes who won medals between 1896 and 2010 with general population groups matched by country, age, sex, and year of birth.
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, the British Medical Journal reports.
Gold, silver and bronze medalists enjoyed roughly the same survival advantage, as did medallists in both endurance and mixed sports, according to a Melbourne statement.
Medallists in power sports, such as gymnastics and tennis, had a smaller but still significant advantage over the general population. Philip Clarke, professor at Melbourne, said the study was not designed to determine why Olympic athletes live longer.
“There are many possible explanations, including genetic factors, physical activity, healthy lifestyle, and the wealth and status that come from international sporting glory,” he said.
“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.”
First Published: Monday, December 17, 2012, 14:23