Monday, July 18, 2011

Endurance Sports and Longevity

Still awaiting some credible evidence that this stuff is bad for you.  The most credible studies keep saying it's not bad for you, and is likely very, very good for you.

Here's the latest:

"Researchers at the University of Valencia in Spain collected birth and death data on 834 cyclists who rode in the Tour [of France] between 1930 and 1964, representing the majority of competitors from France, Italy and Belgium during those years. They compared the data to average figures for people born in those countries in the relevant years, publishing the results in the International Journal of Sports Medicine. The finding: Median age of death was 73.5 years for the controls compared to 81.5 years for the cyclists, and the mean lifespan was 17 per cent longer for the cyclists....

"...On that score, the research is reassuring. A 2009 study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California followed 35,402 runners for 7.7 years, during which time 467 suffered heart attacks or other serious heart problems and another 54 died of heart disease. The risks of all these symptoms declined with every additional daily kilometre run, so that those running more than nine kilometres per day were 65 per cent less likely to suffer from angina, and 29 per cent less likely to suffer from heart disease compared to those averaging three kilometres per day – the level corresponding to most public-health recommendations....

"...There’s also the possibility that the people who choose to become professional cyclists are predisposed to long, healthy lives. However, a Swedish study of 100 world-class male endurance athletes, published last year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found no difference in their genetic risk factors for heart disease, hypertension, cancer and other major killers compared to non-athlete controls....

"...“We believe that, for the general population, exercise should be prescribed like a drug,” she says. That means people who are older, unfit or suffer from conditions such as diabetes might get the greatest benefit from a relatively small dose – but the maximum safe dose is much, much higher than we’ve been led to believe."

Makes sense.  We didn't evolve on couches, after all...

Via Sweat Science on Twitter.