The Longevity Race: How Endurance Sports Influence Mortality Rates in Older Men
Physical activity is well-known for its health benefits, including reduced mortality. But does long-term endurance training offer an added advantage? A study sought to answer this question by examining the 10-year mortality rate among older male endurance athletes and comparing it with that of the general older male population.
The study included male athletes participating in an annual long-distance ski race, the Norwegian Birkebeiner Aging study (BiAS), and non-athletic men attending the sixth Tromsø Study (Tromsø6), all aged 65 years or older. The results were striking. After a decade, the mortality rate was significantly lower in athletes compared to non-athletes. This was true even when considering the effect of self-reported leisure-time physical activity. In fact, the study found an inverse dose-response relationship with mortality, meaning the more physical activity, the lower the mortality rate.
In conclusion, the study suggests that long-term endurance sport practice, maintained into older adulthood, promotes longevity. It's not just about being physically active; it's about the intensity and duration of that activity. So, for those considering taking up a new hobby in their golden years, endurance sports might just be the ticket to a longer life.