Page last updated at 00:55 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 01:55 UK

Leading cricketers 'live longest'

Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan: 76 Tests not out

Research suggests stalwarts of the England cricket team such as Andrew Flintoff and Michael Vaughan can look forward to a long life.

A University of St Andrews study of 418 England cricketers between 1876 and 1963 found the more Tests played, the longer the player was likely to live.

Professor Paul Boyle said the finding suggested career success could boost health and longevity.

The study appears in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

SUCCESS AND LONGEVITY
The longevity of successful cricketers is borne out by the famous "Invincibles", the Australian team which went unbeaten during an entire tour of England in 1948
Seven of the 13 members of the squad who have died lived to the age of at least 80, including Sir Donald Bradman (92) and Bill Brown (95)
Only one member, Sid Barnes, died before the age of 65
The remaining four squad members are still alive; the youngest, Neil Harvey, is 79

Professor Boyle analysed data on the 418 cricketers who played Test match cricket for England between 1876 and 1963.

This enabled him to take account of the impact of social background - which is known to influence longevity - by drawing a distinction between amateur "gentlemen" players and professional cricketers, who tended to have more humble roots.

The division between the two was formally scrapped by the cricket authorities in 1963.

Overall, "gentleman amateurs" who played in many Test matches lived an average of 79.3 years, while those who played in just a few Tests lived to an average of 75.0 years.

"Professional" players who made many Test appearances lived to an average of 76.6 years, but the average life expectancy of those who played in few Tests was just 71.5 years.

Stress

Previous research has suggested that people in low status jobs may be more likely to suffer from poor health, possibly due to stress and frustration.

Professor Boyle said his findings suggested that the converse may also be true: success in a satisfying job may boost health.

He said: "Playing for the national side is the pinnacle of a cricketing career and is likely to have long-term benefits, both in terms of kudos and future working opportunities.

"It seems reasonable to suppose that reaching such a privileged position would therefore have long-term implications for the person involved."

Professor Boyle said it was possible that the most-capped players were simply stronger and healthier than their colleagues, but he argued that the physical difference between players who played a small or large number of tests was likely to be very small.

However, he found no association between captaining England - which could be defined as the ultimate success - and longevity.

Dr Tarani Chandola, from University College London, has carried out research into the effect of stress in the workplace.

He said: "The workplace, like other social environments, has a strong influence on health and longevity.

"Physically hazardous working conditions are well known. Workplace stress is being increasingly recognised as generating poor mental as well as physical health.

"Most studies have investigated the negative health impacts of work stress. There are a few that suggest positive success at work has long-lasting positive health effects - and that it is not simply the lack of work stress that contributes to good health among high status groups."

Professor Cary Cooper, of the University of Lancaster, said: "It's common sense - if you are feeling good you look after yourself because you want to keep on doing good things.

"If you are depressed at work you don't, you probably drink and smoke too much and don't take enough exercise - which are all linked to poor health."


SEE ALSO
Work stress 'changes your body'
23 Jan 08 |  Health

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