Recent research published in the British Medical Journal has found that Olympic athletes have longer life expectancies than non-athletes reported Medical News Today.
During the first study investigators analyzed 15,174 Olympic athletes between 1896 and 2010, who participated in different sports and had diverse nationalities. They found that the Olympians had an average life expectancy that was 2.8 years longer than the rest of the population. The results also showed that the country where the athletes came from had negligible effects on their lifespan and the medals they won did not appear to be contributing factors.
The researchers hypothesized that wealth, lifestyle and genetics were the contributing factors to the athletes living longer.
In a subsequent study, the investigators analyzed 9,889 Olympians who played various sports. While the sports’ level of intensity did not seem to affect the athletes’ lifespan, activities such as boxing, hockey and rugby did. The results showed that athletes who played contact sports were 11 percent more likely to die than their Olympian counterparts.
Exercise and lifespan
Another study, which was conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute and published in the journal PLoS Medicine, supports these findings that frequently exercising may positively impact health and subsequently life expectancy. The researchers looked at data from more than 650,000 participants who were involved in six separate cohort studies.
The results of the study showed that walking just 75 minutes a week increased a person’s life expectancy by 1.8 years after the age of 40, while walking for 450 minutes per week may tack on 4.5 years to a person’s life expectancy. This indicated a need for increased public awareness and participation in physical 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,” wrote public health experts, as quoted by Medical News Today. “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.”
A heart-healthy diet can also help bolster life expectancy. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should try to increase their intake of foods that are rich in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also, keeping sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains to a minimum may also be beneficial. The Mayo Clinic also notes that omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for the heart. They can be found in chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp milk and an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.