Health Benefits for Senior Athletes

Many competitive senior athletes were alarmed by last year's reports suggesting that they might be at increased risk for irregular heart beats (see Is Vigorous Endurance Exercise Safe for the Heart?) Three important new studies show that competitive athletes are likely to be healthier, suffer less disease and live longer than their non-exercising peers.

No Heart Abnormalities Found Twenty-five years after 12 former world-class swimmers stopped competing, an incredibly detailed heart work up failed to find any heart abnormalities whatever (Heart and Vessels, Feb 2014). Their electrocardiograms, exercise testing and echocardiography were all normal.

Former Athletes Less likely to Become Diabetic A study of 392 former male athletes and 207 controls, average age 72.7 years, shows that former athletes were far less likely to become diabetic (Diabetologia, 2014; 57:270-274). Those who continued to exercise into later life had an even lower risk for diabetes. The more a person exercised, the less likely he was to develop diabetes. The authors tested for diabetes by measuring the blood sugar response two hours after taking a sugar load.

Muscle Strengthening Markedly Reduces Diabetes in Older Women A study of 99,316 women over 40 showed that those who spent at least 150 minutes/week exercising and at least 60 minutes/week of muscle strengthening were far less likely to develop diabetes (PLoS Med, Jan 14, 2014).

Checked 9/2/15

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