Endurance masters athletes: a model of successful ageing and consequently reduced risk for chronic disease?

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Climstein, M, Walsh, J, Heazlewood, T & DeBeliso, M 2018, 'Endurance masters athletes: a model of successful ageing and consequently reduced risk for chronic disease?', Sports and Exercise Medicine, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 77-82.

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Master athletes (35 years and older) are aged individuals who exercise regularly and compete in organised competitive sport. The long-term physical activity/exercise should afford these individuals health benefits, one of which should be apparent in body mass index (BMI), a simple index for identifying overweight and obese athletes.
Purpose: To investigate the BMI of endurance masters athletes and determine if this cohort demonstrated clinically favourable BMI as compared to sedentary controls or the general population.
Methods: Systematic review of electronic databases (CINAHL, Cochrane, Medline, PubMed, PsycINFO, Scopus, Web of Science) for studies where BMI was measured in either masters athletes, World Masters Games (WMG) athletes or veteran athletes.
Results: Database searches identified 7,465 studies, of which nine met our inclusion criteria. The mean BMI of all the studies was found to be significantly (p<0.001) lower in masters athletes as compared to controls (23.4 kg/m2 (±0.97) versus 26.3 kg/m2 (±1.68)). Additionally, for all studies mean masters athlete BMI was classified as normal (BMI >18.5 to <25 kg/m2) whereas the majority (77.8%) of the controls BMIs were classified as overweight (BMI >25 to < 30 kg/m2). In all studies, masters athletes had lower BMI compared to controls, this difference was found to be significant in 44.4% of the studies, where significance was not found masters athlete BMI was -2.6% to -18.6% lower than controls.
Conclusion: In all studies, the mean BMI was lower in masters athletes (as compared to controls) and this favourable BMI would afford masters athletes reduced risk with regard to the development of a number of cardiometabolic diseases, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer.

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