In addition to bragging rights and world records, two new studies suggest that training pays off in a big way for Olympic athletes:
They live longer than anyone else in the world.
In case you weren’t sure before, these studies, to be published in the British Medical Journal, confirm that Olympic athletes are indeed some of the healthiest people in the world.
According to CNN, the first study looked at the life expectancy of 15,174 Olympians from the top medal-earning countries including the U.S., Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Each athlete medaled at least once in the Games between 1896 and 2010 and were compared to general population groups matched by age, country, and gender. Overall the Olympic medalists lived an average of 2.8 years longer than the public in eight of the nine countries in a 30-year followup, regardless of whether they placed gold, silver, or bronze or which sport they played.
The second study also found that an athlete’s sport wasn’t a factor. Those who participated in events such as cricket or golf shared similar mortality rates with those who participated in high-intensity sports such as gymnastics and cycling, suggesting that training at high or moderate intensities doesn’t necessarily provide more of a benefit.
The researchers didn’t specifically study the reasons why Olympians live longer than others, but they noted that it could be partly due to genetics, as well as training environments and a high socioeconomic status, as Olympic athletes tend to have more of an opportunity to enjoy the highest-quality diet and fitness regimes than the average person does.
Either way, we think exercising more can’t hurt your chances of living longer! If nothing else, these studies just affirm our belief in the power of regular workouts.