College Athletes More Likely To Suffer in Middle Age

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College Athletes More Likely To Suffer in Middle Age

College athleticsA recent study by a graduate student at the University of Indiana found that individuals who played Division 1 sports in college may be more likely to be disabled, depressed and in pain later in life.
For the study, Janet Simon asked 457 University of Indiana alumni to answer some questions about their mental and physical fitness. The survey was sent to individuals between the ages of 40 and 65 who were categorized as either Division 1 athletes or recreational athletes.


After analyzing the data, researchers uncovered:
  • Former Division 1 athletes were twice as likely to suffer from health problems that limited their daily activity.
  • Two thirds of the elite athletes said the suffered a major injury while playing sports.
  • 40 percent of Division 1 athletes suffered from arthritis, while only 24 percent of recreational athletes had the condition.
  • 50 percent of Division 1 athletes had chronic injuries, while only 28 percent of recreational athletes said the same.
  • D1 athletes were also more likely to experience feelings of sadness or depression.
Simon speculated many reasons for the findings. She noted that some competitive athletes have a difficult time transitioning from regular, highly competitive workouts to working out alone or in a gym.
“A lot of athletes don’t want to work out on a treadmill,” said Simon. “Division I players are used to playing at such a high level. If they can’t play at that level, they sometimes don’t want to do anything. If someone is unhappy with how they’re working out, they made feel depressed, or they may have poorer quality of life.”
Simon also noted that the physical toll the athletes place on their bodies in their 20’s may catch up with them in their later years. She hopes to work with athletes and other organizations to help them prepare for life after graduation.
“We have a lot of resources for our athletes,” Simon said. “But most of them are geared toward making them the best athlete they can be when they’re at the university. There’s not a lot of talk about what you’re going to do when you leave.”

Dr. Silverman comments

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about college athletes being at an increased rick for health issues. Some people may feel little sympathy for athletes who had their college tuition paid for because they were good at sports, but it’s important to remember that very few college athletes go on to have a professional career, and they aren’t compensated for their efforts in college. If they suffer an injury in college that affects them the rest of their life, they can easily rack up bills that far outweigh their entire tuition bill.
I agree with Simon. We need to help athletes prepare for life after college sports while they are still in college.
Related source: American Journal of Sports Medicine, NPR