Boxers face a much shorter life than other sportspeople, according to new research by Compare the Market looking at links between sport, head trauma, and life expectancy. From this research, it was found that boxers live nearly five years less on average than the world’s population.
Collating data on 1,000 professional athletes across 10 different sports, the Australian company determined the average life expectancy of each discipline and compared it against the global life expectancy average.
Boxers had the shortest life expectancy by a considerable margin. Where all other sports in the study had a life expectancy ranging from the mid-70s to early 80s, the life expectancy of a boxer was just 67.7 years of age. The sport with the longest life expectancy was tennis (80.4).
Not only does it have the lowest, but boxing is the only sport in the study that shortens a person’s life span rather than lengthening it. When you compare it to the average person’s life expectancy (72.6 years), professional boxers lose almost 5 years. Tennis, on the other hand, tends to extend one’s life by more than 7 years.
As well as comparing life expectancy data, Compare the Market also scrutinised each athlete’s cause of death to determine whether there was a link to head trauma (presumably from their professional career in sport). From this data, they found that head trauma could be linked to elite boxer deaths in about 1 in 5 of cases.
Both boxing and American football (NFL) returned the most alarming results. There are studies that suggest as many as 22.9% of the professional boxers considered had a cause of death that could be linked to head trauma.
This figure was slightly lower for American football (17.2%), but still considerably higher than the other sports listed which all returned a result lower than 10%.
Professor Alan Pearce, neuroscientist with over 20 years’ experience, Director of NeuroSports Labs and Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University, commented on the higher link between boxing and head injuries leading to lower life expectancy.
“When it comes to boxing, it’s likely that this data reflects an effect of the accumulation of multiple bodily injuries, particularly impacts to the brain, during competitive boxing over their lifetime,” Professor Pearce explained.
“There’s no doubt that repetitive head knocks are associated with cognitive impairment, early onset dementia, and therefore contributing to reduced life expectancy.”
Thankfully, athletes from every other discipline considered saw an extended life span. Tennis players were seen to have the best increase in life expectancy, living over seven years more, than the average person.
If you’re looking at getting into sports, whether it’s a hobby or a career, it’s important to investigate getting health insurance. Many people, every year, can injure themselves playing sports, whether they’re elite athletes or not. It’s important to keep yourself as protected as possible, as surgeries and recovery can cost a lot of money. There are also several extras like massage, therapy, and physio that can help to speed up the body’s recovery and get people back to playing the sports they love.