Endurance cyclists live longer

Recent research has shown that endurance athletes suffer cardiac fibrosis — scarring in the heart muscle. When scientists look at heart tissue from marathon runners, rowers and Ironman competitors, they often find signs of fibrosis, while sedentary subjects usually have no fibrosis at all. In non-athletes, fibrosis is an indicator for arythmias, but medical researchers don’t know how how this heart muscle fibrosis effects the longevity of endurance athletes.

To answer this question, Spanish researchers compare longevity of Tour de France racers against the general population. From the Globe & Mail:

Given the number of cyclists in this year’s Tour de France who have skidded off mountain passes, been sideswiped by passing cars or catapulted into barbed-wire fences, it’s obvious that riding in the Tour can be hazardous to your health.

Researchers at the University of Valencia in Spain compared [Tour racers] to average figures for people from France, Italy and Belgium. 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.

More: Will training like a pro athlete help you live longer?. Via Sweat Science.

5 Comments

  • Andy
    July 20, 2011 - 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. Even without the extreme exercise aspect, people who eat well and are generally active are probably just as likely to see a life expectancy around that too, if not longer.

  • July 20, 2011 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

    My take from the Spanish research is that the extreme endurance athletes live longer in spite of the cardiac damage.

  • Anonymous
    October 22, 2011 - 3:42 am | Permalink

    Hmm, might this be yet one more affirmation of the old ruric: “all things in moderation?” This is not good news for such as Richard and myself – it means we might have to save up more money to last through our extra retirement years while the couch potatoes and fanatics drop off earlier.

  • October 22, 2011 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

    There was a study a little while ago showing the Dutch government pays more for their socialized health care because their bike riding population are just so doggone fit and healthy, so they survive long enough to get some of those really expensive ailments that afflict the elderly.

  • October 22, 2011 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

    There was a study a little while ago showing the Dutch government pays more for their socialized health care because their bike riding population are just so doggone fit and healthy, so they survive long enough to get some of those really expensive ailments that afflict the elderly.

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