Submitted by Mark DeBeliso, Joe Walsh, Mike Climstein, Ian Timothy Heazlewood, Jyrki Kettunen, Trish Sevene and Kent Adams
Athletes competing at the World Masters Games have either initiated exercise later in life or pursued a physically active lifestyle for an extended period. There is a paucity of information regarding the prevalence of chronic health disorders for this unique cohort of mature adults. PURPOSE: To investigate the different aspects of health of the Sydney 2009 World Masters Games North American participants. METHODS: An online survey was developed to investigate participant demographics, physiological measures of health, and medical health history. Questionnaire responses were collected from competitors representing 95 countries in 28 sports. Data were culled to focus on North American participants for comparison purposes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). RESULTS: A total of 928 participants from Canada and the United States (age 52.6±9.8 yrs) completed the survey, with 55% reported having previously competed in the World Masters Games. The top five sports were football (25.6%), track and field (15.4%), swimming (8.4%), volleyball (8.2%), and softball (7.8%). Very few (2.5%) reported currently smoking with an average of 65 cigarettes per week, while 13.6% were ex-smokers. Alcohol consumption (82.0% of the participants) averaged 4.7 drinks week, while 0.6% were ex-drinkers. The top five chronic disorders were rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis (10.0%), hypertension (HTN 9.1%), hyperlipidemia (8.0%), asthma (6.5%), and depression (5.3%). Top three operative treatments were knee replacement or repair (12.2%), hernia repair (6.1%), and herniated disc surgery (2.0%). Top four prescription medications were anti-HTN (6.9%), thyroid hormones (6.6%), hypolipidaemic (6.0%), and medications to increase bone strength (5.9%). Prevalence was significantly lower versus the general US population for HTN, hyperlipidemia, arthritis, asthma, and depression (all p-values <0.01). CONCLUSION: Chronic disease and disorder indicators reported by participants of the 2009 World Masters Games were significantly lower versus the general US population. APPLICATIONS IN SPORT: Competitive sport in mature aged participants requires adherence with physical activity. Exercise adherence in competitive masters sport may promote successful aging and a counter measure to many chronic diseases.