File this under “reasons why being an Olympic athlete is pretty awesome”: according to a new study of 15,000 medalists from 9 countries, Olympians live longer, on average, than the general population.
In fact, athletes who compete in the Olympics outlive their countrymen by an average of 2.8 years. Dr. David Studdert, Melbourne School of Population Health in Australia and author of the study, said, “Olympic medalists live longer than the general population, irrespective of country, medal or sport.”
The results of another study show that a wide variety of sports contained this life expectancy increase advantage. Athletes who competed in cardiovascular-intense events like rowing and cycling shared the same benefits as those in ones such as golf (which I, for one, likely would not have guessed). Basically, it’s great to by an Olympian, regardless of what sport — almost, at least. Those who completed in high-risk sports like boxing and ice hockey, while still amazing athletes, have an “increased risk of death compared with other Olympians.”
Feeling unsatisfied with your own athletics now that you know the benefits of being an Olympian? Don’t be! Simply exercising often and eliminating inactivity can add an additional year onto your lifespan, according to Dr. Adrian Bauman of Sydney University’s School of Public Health and Dr. Steven N. Blair of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health:
“Although the evidence points to a small survival benefit 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.”
Voila! There you have it, like a shot of water from the Fountain of Youth: exercise.