The longevity lifespan that Olympians enjoy is within the reach of everyone, doctors say.A research report- Survival of the fittest: retrospective cohort study of the longevity of Olympic medallists in the modern era is published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests athletes live 2.8 years longer on average than the average lifespan.
The research indicated those who took part in non-contact sports such as cycling, rowing and tennis enjoyed the longest life of all.
But the general population could have a similar “survival advantage” by doing a little more exercise, experts said.
The conclusion by two public health professors came after they reviewed two studies of Olympic athletes published by the BMJ website.
The studies looked at the lifespan and health of 25,000 athletes who competed in Games dating back to 1896.
Those taking part in contact sports such as boxing had the least advantage, while cyclists and rowers enjoyed the best health.
But the researchers also found those who played lower intensity sports such as golf enjoyed a boost.
Possible explanations put forward for the finding included genetic and lifestyle factors and the wealth and status that comes with sporting success.
The recommended level of physical activity for adults is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week.
Studies suggest people who manage that amount or more live for up to several years longer than those that do not.
Writing for the BMJ website, the professors said: “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.”
But they said governments were still not doing enough to promote the benefits of physical activity, calling it a “public health failure”.