“Are Athletes Healthier?

The reason I feel this is an important question to answer, has two origins.

First, if you are similar to me, fitness was introduced to me via sports as kid. And second, now as a prime-time senior, where I have no desire to compete in sports, but have the strongest desire of my life to be fit.

Where are you actually doesn’t matter as fitness at every level is a personal process. Even team sports require individuals to play a specific role and that leads to unique training requirements.

Here is some background on the topic of Athletics and your Health

Ever go back to your high school or college reunion and struggle to hold back the shock at how most of your “star” athletes look now? I have. They were the perfect physical leaders of their day. I remember overhearing one classmate greet another with the line…

You look Tremendous!!!!” and I do not think he meant it in a good way either.

Importance of Fitness Over Aesthetics  

If physical fitness is so important and healthy, why wouldn’t top athletes be the healthiest of our society? Here is the simple answer…

Athletic types tend to have more muscles and less body fat than more sedentary people. The physical capabilities of athletes may exceed those who don’t regularly engage in exercise, and active sports people also tend to have fewer health problems.” -Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell.

The Good News and Bad News on Athletics.

Karen, goes on to report athletes “tend” to have lower heart rates than non-athletes against the normal resting range between 60 and 100 beats per minute. In addition, she reports “athletic types may have better overall health and be less apt to develop certain diseases.” This does agree with my certified health coach training, where by the doctor leading my course suggested active lifestyles increase blood circulation. And this activity helped the body to release what he called “our body’s internal pharmacy”, which contributes significantly to your cardiovascular function (a primary importance to your health). It is generally accepted science that physical activity reduces the likelihood of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. (Based on my studies, diabetes and maybe even “pre-diabetes” are the same as cardiovascular disease.)

A Healthy Lifestyle is not Fad or Phase

It is all well and good that current athletes are healthier than non-athletes, but this does not really answer original question? Much of what you commonly find, never mentions the injuries athletes face, and the studies only focus on the athlete vs the non-athlete. What about the former athlete? I want to know how being an athlete will impact my lifetime, not just my current lifestyle. Well I found a 1st time “lifetime study” of USC college athletes.

Of course the devil is always in the details, but this quote sums up the study…

…the study highlights predictable challenges for former athletes, including health problems with joints later in life, but it also offers encouraging signs, such as better psychological health among current student-athletes compared to their non-athlete peers.”  -as published online in the Journal of Athletic Training.

From this quote, one would assume the primary health benefit of competitive athletics are psychological, while to cost is physical challenges later in life?

Unlike the cardiovascular benefits that current athletes have over non-athletes, former athletes appear to have no better cardiovascular heath than their non-athlete peers. In addition the study suggests the joint health issues faced by most competitive athletes, does not appear to effect the “quality of life” enough to be considered a negative event. As I have personally experienced and observed, athletes are challenged with life after sports and therefore are in much the same need for wellness & health coaching services as non-athletes.


Source and Inspiration

Differences Between Athletes & Non-Athletes”-Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell.

Power Athletes and Distance Training…”-Elliott et al.

…Study Examines Lifetime Health of College Athletes”-Sara Villagran.

Physiological Correlates of Golf Performance”-Wells, et al.

Over The Hill…”-Joe Vennare.