College athletes at higher risk of long-term health problems

High physical activity and over-training may result in increased chronic stress, injuries that linger into adulthood and lower quality of life for former Division I athletes, according to a study by Indiana University researchers.

The study, which included alumni data from a large Midwestern university, included individuals aged 40 to 65 years: 232 former Division I athletes and 225 non-athletes, who participated in recreational activities, club sports or intramurals during college.

Based on the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System questionnaire, former Division I athletes scored significantly worse in the areas of physical function, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances and pain interference.

The former Division I athletes also reported more limitations in daily activities and more major and chronic injuries than the non-athletes.

“Parents who push their children to specialize in one sport and train extensively…should be aware there could be long-term health consequences,” Pietro Tonino, MD, Loyola University program director of sports medicine and professor of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation, stated in a press release.

“We should continue to explore new ways to make college sports as safe and as injury-free as possible,” he said.

For more information:
Simon J. Am J Sports Med. 2014;doi:10.1177/0363546513510393.

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