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Background: Despite the fact that more athletes participate in competitions after the age of 35 years, very few studies have documented the potential health benefits and risk for master athletes in later life.

Research question/s: What are the potential health benefits and risks in master athletes compared with controls?

Methodology:Subjects:102 male Finnish master track and field athletes (MAST; mean age 58.3 years) and 777 controls (CON; mean age 55 years).

Experimental procedure: All the subjects were evaluated in 1985 (baseline) and again 10 and 16 years later. Validated questionnaires were used to assess musculoskeletal health (shoulder and Achilles tendon injury, physician-diagnosed hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) and disability), self-reported general health, presence of chronic medical disease, and mortality was documented (all cause and natural cause).

Measures of outcome: Self-rated health, adjusted odds ratio (OR) (musculoskeletal conditions, and chronic diseases).

Main finding/s::

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  • Self-rated health: at follow-up, MAST subjects self-rated their health as better (p<0.001) and coped better with leisure-time daily activities (p<0.05) than CON subjects.

  • Chronic medical disease: at follow-up, (1) 9% of the CON group had diabetes mellitus and none of the MAST group, (2) the adjusted OR of having at least one metabolic syndrome disease was 0.43 (p = 0.01) in the MAST group vs CON group, and (3) the age-adjusted hazard ratio of death from …

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