Do Former Athletes Suffer Ill Health Later in Life?

Does your child practice or play just one sport?  Does he train obsessively?  Do you insist he not miss a workout or game?

You might want to hold on.  A new study finds that college athletes who do this have worse health in later life than those who play sports recreationally.

“Parents who push their children to specialize in one sport and train extensively in order to win athletic scholarships should be aware there could be long-term health consequences,” quotes Loyola University Medical Center sports medicine physician Dr. Pietro Tonino.

In a study comparing athletes and people like me (non-athletes), former athletes reported worse physical function, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances and pain interference than non-athletes long after they graduated. The athletes also reported more limitations in daily activities and more major and chronic injuries.

So should our athletes stop playing sports?  Of course not.  But maybe more schools should do what Coach Pat Fitzgerald did at Northwestern, arrange naps and carefully monitor players' sleep.  He wound up with a healthy, winning team. 


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