Background: Longitudinal studies and review of mortality rates among athletes compared to the general population indicate a higher life expectancy of athletes differences in life
expectancy between athletes groups. We proposed to investigate factors that contribute to increased longevity in different kinds of sports and how they relate to the general population.
Methods: Data on physical and mental components of health were collected, gathering information about athletes’ lifestyle between October 2013 and November 2015. We divided the
athletes into three subgroups (resistance, mixed and strength), with subgroups based on the predominance of metabolic routes as follows: resistance (predominantly oxidative), mixed (average
prevalence) and strength (predominantly glycolytic).
Results: Among the sports sub-groups, no differences were observed in the proportion of white, brown and black persons, subjective perception of health, self-reported depression and
anxiety, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, body mass index (BMI) and % body fat, blood pressure and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). The endurance sports showed greater number of people with a
family income greater than 8 times the minimum wage (P=0.002) and greater prevalence of other formal jobs (P<0.001), while the mixed sports showed greater number of people without another job
(P<0.001). No differences were found between the categories on alcohol consumption and smoking.
Comparing subgroups of athletes with the general population, alcohol consumption was lower for all categories (p≤0.05). The consumption of tobacco and BMI were below the population only for the
strength category (P≤0.01). The subjective perception of health (excellent and very good) by athletes was below the the general population in all categories (P≤0.01). There were no differences in
blood pressure and self-assessment of anxiety or depression.
Conclusions: : Athletes are “fingered” individuals chosen for their greater physical strength and less vulnerability to health problems. The perception of health of athletes appears
also to be more careful than the non-athlete population and they associate a good health to good physical performance. Athletes tend to have better health habits, such as drinking less, but smoking
less. The endurance sports had the highest number of individuals outside of overweight (BMI) and smoking less, relative to population. These health habits adopted by athletes, concomitant with the
high volume of physical activity contribute to their greater longevity, especially for the resistance category, as shown by earlier works.