Prevalence of chronic conditions in masters games athletes

      Introduction: Masters athletes (MA) are typically individuals 35 years of age or older who engage in sporting competitions or systematic training. They are widely reported to be healthier and to exhibit a lower risk of chronic conditions than age-matched peers. Few studies have examined the prevalence of chronic conditions in MA. The study aimed to identify the prevalence of chronic conditions and their possible predictors in MA, and their prevalence compared to the general population.
      Methods: Masters athletes competing at the 2017 Australian Masters Games (n= 4,848) and 2018 Pan Pacific Masters Games (n=14,455) were invited to complete an online survey collecting data on demographics and health, including presence of chronic conditions. A logistic regression model was built to investigate the association between demographic and lifestyle factors and the prevalence of having at least one chronic condition in MA. The 2017-18 Australian National Health Survey (AHS) provided data on the general Australian adult population. Age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of selected chronic conditions was compared with AHS data using a weighted t-test, and p values were adjusted for multiple comparisons. Statistical analyses were conducted using R version 3.6.3 and level of significance a=0.05.
      Results: A total of 814 MA (53.7±10.6 years, 60.7% female) completed the targeted survey questions. Overall, 53.1% of MA had at least one chronic condition, with the most prevalent being food allergies and intolerances (14.9%), osteoarthritis (13.3%), heart conditions (11.2%), asthma (10.3%), anxiety (8.9%), depression (6.9%), and hypertension (4.5%). Being female and drinking more than two standard drinks per day had a higher OR for having at least one chronic condition (OR, 1.6; 95%CI, 1.2-2.2 and OR, 2.3; 95%CI, 1.1-5.0 respectively). The prevalence of osteoarthritis was similar in MA compared to the general population (11.3%; 95%CI 9.1-13.6; 13.5% respectively, p=0.45). The prevalence of all other chronic conditions was lower in MA compared to the general population (anxiety, asthma, cancers, depression, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus).
      Discussion: Being female and alcohol consumption appeared to be key predictors of having a chronic condition in MA, and MA had a lower prevalence of most chronic conditions compared to the general population. This study highlights key factors influencing the health of MA as well as the potential health benefits of regular exercise and participation in sport for older adults.
      Conflict of interest statement: My co-authors and I acknowledge we have no conflict of interest to the submission of this abstract.