European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 335–340 | Cite as

Mortality of top athletes, actors and clergy in Poland: 1924–2000 follow-up study of the long term effect of physical activity

  • Antoni K. Gajewski
  • Anna Poznańska


Although a regular moderate physical activity is commonly accepted as an important heath promoting factor, the role of professional sport training is still under debate. The presented mortality analysis, concerning the period of 1946–2000, was performed for three groups of people completely healthy in youth, but exhibiting different physical activity level in those days: all Polish athletes who participated in the Olympic Games (1689 males, 424 females), drama actors/actresses (2406/1938), and monks/nuns (796/323). In all studied cohorts mortality was lower than that of gender adjusted, Polish urban population. The SMR values equaled 0.50 for male athletes, 0.78 for actors, 0.64 for monks, and respectively 0.73, 0.84, and 0.77 for corresponding female cohorts. Moreover, the direct comparison indicated that the mortality of male athletes was significantly lower than that of actors and monks: the age-standardized rate ratio of death were equal: 0.64 and 0.81 respectively. The sportsmen also exhibited the longest mean survival. The similar, but not statistically significant trends were observed for female cohorts. All the obtained results proved that high level physical activity in youth positively influenced men’s mortality, what was observed for the former athletes even after 40 years since the end of their professional carrier.


Actors Athletes Monks Mortality Nuns Physical activity 



Confidence interval


Age standardized rate ratio of death


Standard error


Standardized mortality ratio



The authors thank following persons for sharing the data from personal registers: Mr. Kazimierz Kaczor (President of Polish Actors Association), mother Nina (prioress of the General House of Sisters of Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary in Szymanów Poland), brother Grzegorz Sucheński (Secretary of the Warsaw Province in the Order of Capuchins Friars Minor, and brother Józef Marecki (Secretary of the Krakow Province in the Order of Capuchins Friars Minor). We are also very grateful to dr Bogdan Wojtyniak from the Department of Medical Statistics (National Institute of Hygiene in Warsaw) for his methodological expert advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jozef Piłsudski University of Physical EducationWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Department of Medical StatisticsNational Institute of HygieneWarsawPoland

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