Review Article| Volume 79, ISSUE 4, P357-361, December 2014

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Health in older women athletes

Published:September 14, 2014DOI:


      • Physical activity in the past can be protective against osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
      • Former athletes are characterized by better endothelial function and metabolic profile.
      • Former female athletes are at lower risk for developing breast cancer.
      • Professional sport acts negatively on the pelvic floor and is a risk factor for urinary incontinence in future.


      Physical activity has been identified as a protective factor against a wide spectrum of diseases, but little is known about the link between older women's health and their professional involvement in sport in the past. The aim of this narrative review is to characterize and summarize the available data concerning the influence of physical activity on morbidity and mortality in former female athletes. Concerning bone health, it seems that physical activity in the past can be protective against osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, but these data come from observational studies only. Also the cardiovascular system appears to benefit in older women from regular sport in the past. This refers mainly to better heart efficiency, and improved endothelial function and metabolic profile. The incidence of different types of neoplasms, especially breast cancer, is also decreased in former athletes. Professional sport, on the other hand, acts negatively on the pelvic floor and is a risk factor for urinary incontinence. The overall effect on mortality is difficult to assess, because of many parameters, such as the sport's intensity, variety of the sport and exposure to extreme danger in some disciplines. Also, caution should be kept in interpretation of the data because of the shortage of well-designed studies.


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