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Do Olympians Live Longer Than Us Mortals?

By February 23, 2022March 31st, 2022Physiotherapy, Sports Physiotherapy

The Olympics originated in Ancient Greece an estimated 3000 years ago in honour of the God Zeus. When the Games were revived in the 19th century the focus shifted to saluting the super human talents of the worlds athletes. With elite athletes training an average of 25-30 hours a week, do all those hours contribute to an Olympians longevity?

In a study conducted in the United States in 2021, researchers assessed the longevity and the years of life lost or saved due to multiple cases of death between Olympic athletes and the general population.

The study looked at 8124 former US athletes who had participated in the Olympic Games at least once between 1912 and 2012. They analysed their dates of birth, death and underlying causes of death.

The result of the study found that US Olympians lived an average of 5 years longer than their peers. This was mostly due to:

  • A lower rate of premature cardiovascular deaths. Which led to a 2 year life extension
  • A lower risk of cancer. Which led to a 1.5 year life extension
  • Decreased death rates from respiratory, digestive, endocrine and metabolic diseases also contributed to a longer Olympian lifespan

We can’t all be Olympians but there are things we can do to keep fit and healthy. According to the Australian Department of Health, adults (18 to 64) should be active on most days.

We should be doing:

  • 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity. For example, walking, swimming or even mowing the lawn
  • 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity. For example, jogging, cycling or playing netball
  • Muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days each week. For example, squats, push ups and lifting weights

If you’re not quite meeting these activity requirements but are wanting a change, give us a call to inquire about our one on one or group physio pilates led sessions to get you back on track.


J., Antero, H., Tanaka, Q., De Larochelambert, M., Pohar-Perme, J. F., Toussaint (2021). Female and male US Olympic athletes live 5 years longer than their general population counterparts: a study of 8124 former US Olympians. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2021; 55:206-212.

Australian Department of Health (2021). Physical activity and exercise guideline for all Australians: For Adults (18 to 64 years). 

Bend + Mend

Bend + Mend has been providing Sydney’s CBD with Physiotherapy and Pilates services since 2003. We have 4 great locations in Martin Place, Barangaroo, Darling Park and Circular Quay, all with private rooms and specialised one-on-one care. We also have Sydney CBD’s best-loved Physios who have helped over 10,000 people recover from pain and injury.

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