Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Longevity of men capable of prolonged vigorous physical exercise: a 32 year follow up of 2259 participants in the Dutch eleven cities ice skating tour.

British Medical Journal 1990; 301 doi: (Published 22 December 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;301:1409
  1. J L van Saase,
  2. W M Noteboom,
  3. J P Vandenbroucke
  1. Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Leiden University Hospital, The Netherlands.


    OBJECTIVE--To compare the long term survival of a group of athletes taking prolonged vigorous physical exercise to that of the general population. DESIGN--Follow up of a cohort of participants in the Dutch eleven cities ice skating tour (a race and recreational tour) over a distance of 200 kilometers. SETTING--Data on participation from the organising committee and data on mortality from all municipalities in The Netherlands. SUBJECTS--2259 Male athletes. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Comparison of all cause mortality in male participants in the tour with that in the general population of The Netherlands. RESULTS--The standardised mortality ratio for all participants during 32 years of follow up was 0.76 (95% confidence interval 0.68 to 0.85), and 0.90 (0.48 to 1.44) for participants in the race, and 0.72 (0.60 to 0.86) for participants in the recreational tour who finished within the time limit. CONCLUSIONS--The capacity for prolonged and vigorous physical exercise, particularly if the exercise is recreational, is a strong indicator of longevity.