The in-depth study by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) funded by Bayes Business School — based on Commonwealth Games competitor records since the inaugural event in 1930 — shows large differences in the longevity of medal winners compared to people in the general population that were born in the same year.
The report “Marathon or Sprint: Do elite-level athletes live longer than average?”, by Professor Les Mayhew and Ray Algar, explains that:
- For men, longevity is boosted most by 29% in the case of aquatics, 25% for track and 24% for indoor sport as compared with the median age of death of a member of the general population. This translates to between 4.5 and 5.3 extra years of life.
- Across all sports categories, women’s longevity is boosted by 22%, equating to 3.9 extra years of life.
Further findings show that:
- The longevity of long-distance runners is marginally higher than that of those who run shorter distances.
- Wrestlers live longer than boxers.
- There’s no difference in longevity within field events.
Cycling was the only sport that wasn’t associated with longer lives. The study found that the longevity of male competitors was only 90% compared with the general male population, although this is changing as safety improves.
The Commonwealth Games is an important global force; the international and inclusive nature of the Games means that the longevity benefits are widely shared. Since the 2006 Games in Melbourne, each event’s estimated global audience has been approximately 1.5 billion people – or around six out of ten people across the Commonwealth nations.