Mortality of top athletes, actors and clergy in Poland: 1924–2000 follow-up study of the long term effect of physical activity
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.
KeywordsActors Athletes Monks Mortality Nuns Physical activity
Age standardized rate ratio of death
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.
- 1.World Health Organization. The world health report 2002: reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002.Google Scholar
- 8.Sarna S, Koskenvuo M, Sahi T. Morbidity and mortality of former top athletes. In: Ljungqvist A, Peltokallio P, Tikkanen H, editors. Sport medicine in track & fields athletics. Konvola: Leltikanta oy; 1985. p. 155–63.Google Scholar
- 10.Głuszek Z. Leksykon polskich olimpijczyków 1924–1998 (Lexicon of Polish Participants in Olympic Games 1924–1998). In Polish. Warsaw, Poland: Polskie wydawnictwo sportowe SPRINT; 1999.Google Scholar
- 11.Tuszyński B. Polscy olimpijczycy XX wieku t.1/2 (Polish Olympians of the XX century vol. 1/2). In Polish. Warsaw, Poland: Europa; 2004.Google Scholar
- 12.Morgan JE, University oars. Critical injury into after-health of the men who rowed in Oxford and Cambridge boat race from the year 1829–1869. London: Mac Milan and Co., Ltd.; 1873.Google Scholar
- 13.Yamaji K, Shephard RJ. Longevity and causes of death of athletes. J Hum Ergol. 1977;6:15–27.Google Scholar
- 14.Stephens KE, Van Huss WD, Olson HW, Montoye HJ. The longevity, morbidity, physical fitness of former athletes – an update. In: Eckert HM, Montoye JJ, editors. Exercises, Health, American Academy of Physical Education Papers. Champaing IL: Human Kinetics Publishers; 1984. p. 101–110.Google Scholar
- 15.Gajewski AK. Mortality and causes of death among former athletes. (In Polish). Phys Educ Sport. 1997;1–2:207–24.Google Scholar