Findings published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) indicated that people who took part in non-contact sports like rowing, cycling and tennis lived significantly longer than other people.
Now two public health experts reviewing this study (along with one other also published in the BMJ) have said everyone could enjoy a longer life if they did just a little more exercise.
The studies looked at the health and lifespan of 25,000 Olympic athletes who completed as far back as 1896.
Those with the shortest lives were those involved in contact sports like boxing and those with the longest were cyclists, rowers and tennis players.
Professor Adrian Bauman, from Sydney University, and Professor Steven Blair, from South Carolina University – the experts who analysed the studies, think Olympians live longer for a number of reasons.
These reasons include the wealth and status associated with sporting success, as well as genetic and lifestyle factors.
Other studies show that people who get the recommended level of physical activity every week live longer than those who do not.
Adults should exercise moderately for at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week.
Writing for the BMJ website, the professors said: “Although the evidence points to a small survival effect of being an Olympian, careful reflection suggests that similar health benefits and longevity could be achieved by all of us through regular physical activity.”
They say governments are failing to push the benefits of physical activity to the public.
Exercise is thought to prevent a huge number of physical and mental health problems. Some complementary and alternative therapies, including Massage, Yoga and Acupuncture, are designed to boost performance and heal sports injuries.
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