Olympic Athletes Have a Lower Mortality than the General Population

A number of studies have shown that elite athletes have a significantly lower mortality and longer life expectancy than the general population. It is unclear as to whether this is due to physical activity and training for fitness versus other mechanisms, as elite chess players appear to have similar advantages. This study is par for the course, looking at Japanese Olympic participants. Interestingly, it hints at the upper end of the dose-response curve for physical activity, in that a longer career as a professional athlete may be detrimental in comparison to lesser degrees of exercise and training.

From this large, retrospective cohort study targeting 3546 Japanese Olympic athletes, we observed significant lower mortality among Olympians compared with the Japanese general population. The overall standardised mortality ratio (SMR) was 0.29. The results were consistent with previous studies conducted in other non-Asian countries, but the SMR was lower than in previous studies. A retrospective cohort study targeting 203 French Olympic rowers reported that the SMR for all causes of death was 0.58. Another retrospective cohort study targeting 2403 French Olympic athletes reported a SMR of 0.49 among women and 0.51 among men. A third retrospective cohort study of 233 Croatian male Olympic medalists reported a SMR of 0.73.

In the analysis by total number of participation in the Olympic Games, significantly higher mortality was observed among those who participated in the Olympics more than twice compared with those who participated only once. The underlying reason for this may be that those who participated in Olympic Games many times may have had long careers as elite athletes. To be continuously successful, they could have been exposed to exercises with high intensity for long periods, which may have led to higher mortality compared with those who participated only once.

We conducted cohort classification by sport discipline according to the nine combinations of static and dynamic intensity of sports disciplines, and demonstrated the association between intensity of sports disciplines and mortality. We did not observe significantly higher mortality among athletes who participated in disciplines of highest static and highest dynamic intensity. This could be explained in part by their exercise habits after retiring from international competitions. Although a study reported that those capable of prolonged vigorous physical exercises lived longer compared with the general population, Olympic athletes involved in sports disciplines with high intensity may not necessarily continue sports activities after retirement. The habit of sports activities after retiring from athletics may have more influence on mortality than the static/dynamic intensity of each sports discipline.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000653


I know it's not politically correct to discuss it, but good breeding and nutrition is probably highly corrected with all these advantages. Stefan Molyneux has a number of interviews/videos about it.

Posted by: Thomas Mark Schaefer at April 6th, 2020 9:03 AM

Olympic athletes have lower mortality yet reportedly have an older epigenetic age than average.

I wonder if it is their contentiousness? It is associated with longevity.

"Accordingly, the complete 5-CpG model revealed age acceleration of elite athletes (P=1.503x10-7) and the result was more significant amongst power athletes (P=1.051x10-9)."

"Modified aging of elite athletes revealed by analysis of epigenetic age markers"

"The Case for Conscientiousness: Evidence and Implications for a Personality Trait Marker of Health and Longevity"


Posted by: Lee at April 6th, 2020 10:06 AM

Hi Lee! Just a 2 cents.

If you meant Conscientousness (conScientious), it plays a part; not conTentiouness (conTentious), unless you meant 'content' (happy/self-sufficient)-iousness. That yes, content happy and conscious/aware...they take care of their bodies/health/are happy with body; thus conscientious of their own self. They do exercise and are athletes, in that sense yes. Why then would their epigenetic age be more accelerated? (Well, That, is ConTentious.)

The reason is because ''burn the candles by both ends'', that is what athletes do. You may be in shape, tip top shape, but aging and health, though connected, can be Also disconnected.
'Power Athletes' are powerful and lots of energy, but living in the fast lane. Fast lane = Fast aging. Exercise was shown to slow aging - Only - mild exercise Nothing more.
It was shown that after midle-to-strenuous bouts of exercise there was activation of telomerase (by hormones) and because you 'activate the metabolism' during exercise; this has endocrinal effect of 'rejuvenating' body (aking to CR/calorie restriction) working on the autophagy and SIR/DAF/mTOR genes (in other words insulin signaling). People that did exerise had about 500pds extra (telomeres), due to telomerase being activated during exercise.

The minute you overdo this - it becomes detrimental, not to your health, but mostly to your aging.
Because, they saw that there was accumulation of lactate/lactic acid in muscles and destruction of muscle fibers; also LOTS of lipid peroxidation when you overdo it. This is why they ask athletes to Eat a Lot of carbs after lots of strenuous exercise (to near exhaustion). That's because body is breaking down. So carbs - fast - to rebuild body quickly and mitigate 'after damage/after exercise'. They saw reduction of MDA/TBARS only at medium exercise or sustained 'short hard' bouts. That's it. That's because hormonse don't Need you to do 4 hours of exercise...just 10 minutes and you can get benefit. After you strain your body and you age acceleration - by the excess mitochondrial lipid peroxidation. Which will telomere shortening acceleration (Despite telomerase 'offsetting it' - net Negative loss) cause epigenetic drifting and loss of 5-methC/5-CpG changes towards global loss of epigenomic content (which is advanced aging). They also showed this in flies (flyes that are hyperactive die Young and become 'non-movers' later on/crippled/they Overspend Energy - until no more energy)...and mouse...trained mice live longer, I forgot which one but one type of mouse is genetically changed to be 'exercise prone' and it continuiously 'goes on its Wheel/treadmill'...does lots of it...far more than regular wild type mice. THey live longer...but do they live Long like a Naked Mole Rat (35 years)? Nope. Thus, exercise is only benefitial to a certain point. Energy Vs Consumption -> balance. When overdoing it/spending too much energy 'exercising', no more left 'for the rest' (DNA repair/somatic tissue maintenance).

Burn the candles by both ends, and it ends, quick(er).

Just a 2 cents.

Posted by: CANanonymity at April 6th, 2020 3:59 PM

@ CANanonymity
Thanks for your detailed response. I just noticed my earlier misspelling.

I am aware and agree with what you said but yet here is the paper Reason reviewed in which Olympic athletes have LOWER mortality than the general population. I think it is fair to say that nobody trains harder than those at the Olympic level.

Adding to my confusion is that these high level athletes apparently have faster epigenetic aging too.

So my question is how do you age faster yet live longer? Is it the conscientiousness?

Posted by: Lee at April 7th, 2020 7:06 AM

Re Hi Lee! Thank you for that.

I know, lower mortality for athletes. But it does not change the point, which is, that you, still, age. They may have lower mortality because they hit the 'gold mean' for health, as such, they live younger. And because sedentary people/non-athletes or very low or to non exercising people die younger. But that'S What's lacking from this study, some people did Not exercise as much as these athletes and they lived Longer than them. Studies like this one are quite biased by statistics and tring to say that athletes obviously live longer. They live logner because healthier, more muscle mass, and probably better insulin signaling (due to more muscle mass, skeletal muscle mass controls insulin (it was shown to when going from obese to athlete body' there is strong changes in the pancréas/insulin, and that is due to muscles improving WBGD (Whole Body Glucose Disposal). So getting muscles has lots of benefits. Does this mean you will live a 120. No. It does mean that it gives you a chance of prolonging your lifespan, Absolutely. Because as they said in the study you lower intrinsic mortality. And a certain point, surely, if you control this well enough you do age slower; but that is the 'gold mean'. Some athletes don't hit that and go 'overboard', and actually aging faster. For example, some supercentenarians did exercise, of course, but were they Athletes. No. A very solid no. Some ate crap food (lard, fatty Junk) smoked sht (cigars/smokes, ironically, can be 'healthy' - even despite all their carcinogens), did Everything inthe book to kill themselves. Yet, Tehy Outlived these 'super atheletes...who died much yougner. Some Tour bikers developped 'large heart' - 29 beats per second, their heart is so powerful it can beat at Half-60 beat per min (30 bpm). Yet, they still die, your heart is not made to become huge like that (hyperthrophy of the heart). Still, when you have such low heart rate/bradycardia you are aging slower, because slow heart rate is equal to slowed metabolism (this was demonstrated in whales - whales that lived 200 years (bowhead), had low heart rate of 30 beatts per minutes and they live up to 200+; they had less DHA in heart and more saturated fatty acids in their cardiac mitos membranes (which means a low PI (peroxidaiton index)).

My uncle was a bit like a Super athlete, he did 'marathons' in bike...going from god knows where to god know where (i.e/aka. far to very far), like biking miles and miles and miles...he could have competed with these 'marathon runner/bikers'...he was fit, ok older and losing muscle mass with age, but he died of alzheimer's at 74. ANd his diet was normal, maybe not Calorie Restriction but quite good. Maybe he Did live in the fast lane and 'overworked it/burned candle quick'.

The key (motto) to this is 'moderation has a much better taste'...moderation. Being moderate about anything you do, diet, exercise, etc...Don't Not do it. But don't Overdo it. Do it moderately. A bit of everything. Athletes live in the Dangerous lane...some have died precipitously. I remember this story of a man 36 years old..bit younger than me now...and was Tip Top Shape...healthy doing runnning every day...maybe not 'pure athlete who had everything Under control about his body'...anyway, he pushed it. Too far (apparently, body did not want). One day he went to do morning running job...it was alright, feeling good...then did bike treadmill. He died on the bike.

Just a 2 cents.

PS: Aging and health are connected/disconnected, depending on situation. They are fare more nuanced than simple connected together. It's why there is ambiguity still. They depend on each other but they are more complex/subtle than that. For example, Vitamin C is Something healthy for you...yet it is also 'technically' unhealthy....your body Needs vitamic c (ascorbate/ascorbix acid because it régulâtes the redox ascorbic acid is recycled and is important into the formation of GSH/thiols), not only that it is a part of process to make collagen scaffold (it helps to crosslink and form correct scaffolds of collagen, it's why it gives a 'youthning' effect on the body..and it combats ROS from disease). Yet, why 'unhealthy', because it is Double-Edged sword. It heals you but it ages you. Ascorbic acid is a strong 'pro-Oxidizer', it is 2-faced, and canchange its state; it is Not a 'Full-time' ros quencher, it does what it suits it. But, it Especially ages you in the epigenome. It makes strong demethylation and messes up the epigenome. It creates moer hydroxylation of the methyls; which is bad. Because you are trying to keep epigenome silenced/unchanging with time. But it does that - it changes you. In other words, it participates in the (hateful) word called : ''healthy aging''. Which is that you age - still, but 'healthier'. You will die anyway, one day, thanks to it. Catch 22. It's a bit like 'sexual hormones' that help you be 'sexually productive'..but there is a catch, this is costly, in resources...resources you lose towards somatic maintenance. Thus, sexy quick = not sexy/early death. Animals that prolong serxual maturity Live Longest, that is because there is a interplay between sexual resources vs somatic DNa maintenance/longevity gene resources allocation. Mice hyper reproductive very early = quick death (2-4 years). Evolution chose that depending ont he specie blueprint. Humans are Lucky that we mature/become pubert(ty) only at 10-13 year old or so. Mice is long before, and die long before too. Quahogs live 500 years, some of them become sexually active at 100 years old and have no sexorgans for all this time. ''But people like euneuch have no testicles no sexual organs - they live longer''. sexual reproduction ablation is two faced, it reduces mTOR/insulin signaling and makes more stem cell repair - hence better health. Not always, in women (and men) menopause/andropause see reduction of oeastrogen/testosterone and increase of sudden mortality. Because the oestrogen activates estrogenic receptors in brain/body, which tehy activate telomerase. Lose that, and you lose protection of enzyme. It is why people can die faster 'after puberty period' during late meopause/andropause time where hormones reduce and body becomes 'frail' (lose muscle mass). As you can see Lee, this is why it is more complicated than age faster yet live longer. Conscientiousness is very important for your mental health - which plays a strong part in longevity (like some supercentenarians lived 110 years old they were mathematicians or chess players...but is is Because they were that, no, but it sure helped). Being 'at peace' in your mind helped (its why super poor people lived 100 years old...they did lots of 'daily work', which was physical, andthey may have been uneducated, but they still Outlived other more educate people; there is a trend, the more educated/rich/resources the longer the lifespan - because Get hospital cares, money and best food, which poor people don't obtain). It was shown that Yoga increases GSH content after yoga session, meditaion has lots of positive on your mind and body; it calms you it reduces stress (and ox. stress). Remove that, and yoga would do j*cksh*t. Thus, you have to calm your body, remove stress of you life. Be conscientious, but not overstressed -stressed mind = health problems sooner or later.

Posted by: CANanonymity at April 7th, 2020 5:48 PM

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