European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 257–260 | Cite as

Life expectancy in Italian track and field athletes

  • A. Menotti
  • E. Amici
  • G. C. Gambelli
  • F. Milazzotto
  • P. Bellotti
  • R. Capocaccia
  • B. Giuli


Nine hundred eighty-three top Italian track and field athletes (700 males and 283 females) were examined for survival, mortality and causes of death for an average follow-up period of 18.6 years starting from their last year of competition as members of the national team. Overall mortality rates were compared to the rates expected on the basis of the life tables for Italian people of the same age, sex and time period. Thirty-four deaths were observed among males (vs 46.6 expected) with a O/E ratio of 0.73, while 3 deaths were observed among women (vs 6.2 expected) with a O/E ratio of 0.48. Neither of these differences was significant, but the O/E ratio for the group as a whole was quite significant (p = 0.0296). Some of the athletes demonstrated behavioural characteristics developed during their active careers that might have contributed to their low mortality rate.

Key words

Athletes Life expectancy Mortality 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    GoliniA., CapocacciaR., LoriA. and VerdecchiaA. (1985): La mortalità delle regioni italiane negli ultimi 30 anni. Tavole ridotte di mortalità per causa. Rapporto sulla situazione demografica in Italia/2, CNR, Istituto di Ricerche sulla Popolazione, Roma.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gruppo di Ricerca ATS-RF2 (1980):1 fattori di rischio dell'arteriosclerosi in Italia. La fase A del Progetto Finalizzato del CNR Medicina Preventiva - Arteriosclerosi-RF2.- G. Ital. Cardiol. 10: (suppl. 3).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    ISTAT (1986): Indagine statistica sulle condizioni di salute delle popolazioni e sul ricorso ai servizi sanitari. Novembre 1983, ISTAT, Roma, Note e Relazioni N. 1.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    KarvonenM.J. (1974): Longevity of endurance skiers.- Med. Sci. Sports 6: 49–51.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    KhoslaT. (1972): Longevity of athletes, Lancet: 2: 1318–1323.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lange AndersenK., MasironiR., RutenfranzJ., SeligerV., DegréS., TryggK and OrginM. (1978): Habitual physical activity and health. WHO Regional Pubbl. - Euro-Series n. 6, WHO-EURO, Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    LargeyG. (1972): Athletic activity and longevity, Lancet 2: 286–288.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    MenottiA., AmiciE., MilazzottoF., BellottiP. and GambelliG.C. (1988): Storia naturale dell'atleta. Indagine su ex-nazionali di atletica leggera. In “Il punto su cuore e sport”. P.F. Fazzini, G.C. Gambelli eds. O.I.C. Medical Press, Firenze, 235–256.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    MontoyeH., VanHussW., OlsonH., HudecA. and MahoneyE. (1956): Study of the longevity and morbidity of college athletes. - JAMA 17:1132–1134.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    PaffenbargerR.S., HydeR.T., WingA.L. and SteinmetzC. (1984): A natural history of athleticism and cardiovascular health. - JAMA 252: 491–495.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    PaffenbargerR.S., HydeR.T., WingA.L. and HsiehC. (1986): Physical activity, all-cause mortality and longevity of college alumni. - N. Engl. J. Med. 314: 605–613.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    PolednakA.P. (1972): Previous health and longevity of male athletes. Lancet 2: 711–712.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    PolednakA.P. (1972): Longevity and cardiovascular mortality among former college athletes. -Circulation 46: 649–654.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    PowellK.E. and PaffenbargerR.S. Jr (1985): Workshop on epidemiologic and public health aspect of physical activity and exercise: a summary. - Pubbl. Hlth. Rep. 100: 118–125.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    PowellK.E., ThompsonP.D., CaspersenC.J. and KendrickJ.S. (1987): Physical activity and the incidence of coronary heart disease. - Ann. Rev. Pub. Hlth., 8: 253–287.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    RookA. (1954): An investigation into the longevity of Cambridge sportsmen. - Br. Med. J. 3: 773–777.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    SarnaS., KoskenvvoM. and SahiT. (1985): Morbidity and mortality of former athletes. - In: “Sport medicine in track and field athletics”. - Ljungqvist A., Peltokallio P., Tikkanen H., Eds. Leltikanta Oy, Konvola, Finland, 155–163.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    SheehanG.A. (1972): Athletic activity and longevity. -Lancet 2: 974–976.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    YamaijK. and ShepardR.J. (1977): Longevity and causes of death of athletes, Hum. Ergol. 6: 15–27.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Menotti
    • 1
  • E. Amici
    • 2
  • G. C. Gambelli
    • 3
  • F. Milazzotto
    • 3
  • P. Bellotti
    • 3
  • R. Capocaccia
    • 1
  • B. Giuli
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsIstituto Superiore di SanitàRomeItaly
  2. 2.Research Department FIDALCONIRomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of CardiologyS. Camillo HospitalRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations