5,000+ responses indicate athletes are maintaining fitness and positive outlook
During the pandemic, the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) suspected that the uniqueness of athletes who participate in the National Senior Games may afford them an extra level of protection over their age peers. With prompting from State Games coordinators, NSGA Health and Well-being Director Andrew Walker initiated a “status of health survey” of qualified National Senior Games athletes.
The preliminary findings are confirming that the athletes are maintaining their fitness activity and positive outlook.
The survey was designed to confidentially collect population data to better understand status of health and the needs of the athletes during this turbulent period. The response has been tremendous, with more than 5,000 athletes taking the survey in numbers that are lending even more credibility to the data.
The project took root when NSGA was awarded a Region IV Public Health development project this year from Emory University. University of South Florida Professor of Gerontology Hongdao Meng, MD, PhD, MPH, mentored University of Alabama-Birmingham public health graduate student Kelly Corcoran to create the survey. Additional assistance came from Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) researcher Becca Jordre, DPT, of the University of South Dakota.
Dr. Meng notes the preliminary survey results confirmed that National Senior Games athletes maintained an active lifestyle despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, participated in meaningful activities, and have been highly resilient to age-related functional decline. This is exciting because future research with these athletes may help us understand how common barriers to maintaining an active lifestyle can be overcome. Learning about their positive experiences with a healthy lifestyle will help people of all ages improve their health and well-being.
Initial analysis by Dr. Jordre reveals interesting early findings: Of respondents thus far only 8% report having had COVID-19, though an additional 4.5% report having a presumed case (someone has tested positive for the virus at a local or state level, but it has not yet been confirmed by the CDC). Only 0.4% were hospitalized for COVID-19 and 0.1% report having a severe case that required a ventilator. Currently 84% of athletes report being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Findings also show that a majority of the respondents are planning to compete in the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana, which will be held next May 10-23 in Greater Fort Lauderdale. When asked about their top reason for participating in the Games the top reason was the competition (45%), followed by having fun (27%) and for the health benefits (21%).
Dr. Jordre reports that these results also confirm ongoing SAFE study findings. More than 60% of surveyed athletes report getting more than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise each week, which meets CDC guidelines for older adults. Less than 25% of the general population of older adults meets this recommendation.
“This is good information,” Walker said. “It’s what makes well-being programming both challenging and interesting. As a trained health educator, I know the importance of not relying on perceptions when working with populations and not assuming you know your audience. It is best to ask them what is important in order to have effective programming. It also speaks to motivational aspects of the participants.”
A final report will be shared when it is completed.
The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) is a member of the U.S. Olympic Paralympic Committee Affiliate Organization Committee. NSGA is a nonprofit Florida corporation that promotes health and wellness for adults 50 and over through education, fitness and sport. NSGA governs the biennial National Senior Games, the largest multi-sport championship event in the world for seniors. The Association is comprised of 53 independent Member Games that conduct qualifying competition events, and the 2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana will be held May 10-23,2022 in Greater Fort Lauderdale. For more information, please visit NSGA.com.
NSGA Media Contact: