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Olympian 'survival advantage' available to all

Everyone can enjoy the longer lifespan of an Olympian providing they meet exercise guidelines.

Research published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found medal-winning Olympic athletes live an average of 2.8 years longer than the general population.

In the study of more than 15,000 Olympians, it was found that those taking part in non-contact sports such as cycling, rowing and rowing enjoy the longest life of all, compared to those who engage in disciplines with high levels of physical contact, such as boxing, rugby and ice hockey, who find themselves at an increased risk of death in later life.

But two public health experts claimed those who do at least 150 minutes a week of “moderate to vigorous” intensity physical activity also have a survival advantage compared with the inactive general population.

"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,” said the public health experts.

The experts blasted the government and NHS for not taking the importance of physical activity “seriously enough” and said:  "our inability to improve physical activity is a public health failure.”