Positive effects of physical activity on facets of quality of life in elderly individuals: Lessons from the Masters athletes


As the population continues to age rapidly, quality of life (QoL) for elderly individuals has become a growing public health concern. Physical activity participation may be a protective factor against deleterious QoL such as impaired physical, emotional, and cognitive functioning. Elderly Masters Athletes (MA), who train and compete in elite level athletics, may exemplify the positive effects of physical activity on QoL facets. This study compared mean satisfaction with life, emotional well-being, physical functioning, and cognitive function between world-ranking elite elderly (≥75 years of age) MA (n = 15) and age-sex-matched non-athlete controls (NAC; n = 14).  MA had significantly better physical health (VO2max (ml?*kg-1?*min-1): t(18) = 5.9; Quadriceps strength (N/m): t(27) = 2.6), emotional well-being (Optimism: t(24) = 3.29; Positive affect: t(20) = 12.17), satisfaction with life (t(15) = 3.53), and cognitive health reflected by better scores on cognitive tests of learning and memory (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test: t(27) = 2.99 to 3.62), global cognitive function (Mini Mental State Exam: t(27) = 3.02) and executive function (Trail Making Test- Part A: t(27) = -2.09). These findings demonstrate that physical activity has positive effects on components of QoL, such as physical and cognitive function, emotional well-being and satisfaction with life, in elderly individuals.