On average, Olympic medal winning athletes live 2.8 years longer than the non-Olympic performing public, according to a retrospective study published in the British Medical Journal (December 13).
Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia culled information from 15,174 Olympic athletes from nine countries who won medals between the years 1896 and 2010. The study's authors added that nationality had no significant impact upon the results.
The so-called survival advantage was similar among athletes who won either gold, silver or bronze medals and among those who won medals in endurance and mixed sports. Those athletes who competed in the more strenuous activities had less of a lifespan advantage than those who competed in less strenuous activities.
"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. Although the evidence points to a small survival effect of being an Olympian, careful reflection suggests that similar health benefits and longevity could be achieved by all of us through regular physical activity. We could and should all award ourselves that personal gold medal," the authors concluded.
by RTT Staff Writer
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