Introduction: Physical activity has been proposed as a health enhancing factor, especially in people of over 50 years of age. The aim of this study was to describe the specific health-related anthropometric characteristics and lifestyle habits in a large sample of physical active 10 to 90 years old subjects. Methods: In 2007, 1273 of the 25000 gymnasts participating in the “XIII World Gymnaestrada” (Dornbirn, Austria) were recruited on-site and volunteered in this study (325 males and 948 females). Physical activity and the degree of physical inactivity were assessed using the short version of the international Physical Activity Questionnaire (iPAQ). Anthropometry was conducted following the guidelines of the “International Society for the Advancement in Kinanthropometry” (ISAK, 2001). Static strength of the upper extremity was tested using a handgrip dynamometer. The total sample was stratified in age categories (15.0–24.9, 25.0–34.9, 35.0–44.9, 45.0–54.9, 55.0–64.9, 65.0–74.9, 75.0–90). For descriptive analyses non-parametric and parametric statistics were used. A one-sample t-test was used to compare the results with the reference data of a general population . Significance was set at the 5% level of confidence. Results: In the total sample (n = 1273) males (42.4 ± 17.5 years) were younger than females (45.6 ± 18.0 years) (p = 0.005). The median of the degree of physical inactivity was 4 hours sitting per day in both genders (p > 0.05). Gymnasts in this study were less inactive than the 74 male (9.8 ± 2.4 hrs sitting/d) and 169 female (7.5 ± 3.4 hrs sitting/d) Australian adults. In all age groups and in both genders mean static strength values of gymnasts were higher compared to the reference values observed in the general population . Even if no differences were found between mean body weight of gymnasts and the general population, our results suggest a higher functional strength in gymnasts (male and female) of all age groups compared to the general population . For all age groups and for both genders, gymnasts showed more healthy mean values of health-related anthropometric variables than the general population . Discussion: In a previous study including the same sample, Taeymans et al.  found that participants of the World Gymnaestrada 2007 showed health-enhancing lifestyle habits, such as less smoking and a more important daily fruit and vegetables consumption compared to the general population. This study will be continued during the XIV World Gymnaestrada that will be held at Lausanne in 2011. The same subjects will be invited to participate again. As such, this study will become a longitudinal follow-up study. Conclusion: Compared to the references of a more general population , gymnasts of the World Gymnaestrada 2007 show more healthier anthropometric values, health-enhancing lifestyle habits (i.e. a low degree of physical inactivity) and a high degree of functional strength in all age groups and in both genders. Hence, these participants may be better protected against age-related health problems such as sarcopenia.
|Tijdschrift||Isokinetics and Exercise Science|
|Nummer van het tijdschrift||2|
|Status||Published - 2010|