Aim. The aim of the study was to analyse the mortality of the graduates of a faculty of sports sciences in Estonia. The graduates are expected to be more physically active and to have more knowledge about training and the usefulness of physical activity than general population.
Methods. The observed cohort consisted of 2418 men and 2370 women who had graduated the Faculty of Sports Sciences of the University of Tallinn in 1960–2007 or the University of Tartu in 1948–2007. Followup for mortality started from graduation or from 01.01.1983 if the university was graduated before 1983. The graduates were followed until their death or emigration or until 31.12.2010, depending on which date occurred first. The National Death Register was used for ascertaining the cause of death. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) adjusted for age and calendar year were calculated. The men and the women were analysed separately and their data were compared with the corresponding data for the Estonian male and female populations.
Results. There occurred 305 deaths for men and 132 deaths for women. The overall mortality of the graduates was 58% lower for the men and 45% lower for the women compared with the general population. For the men, decreased mortality was found for all major diagnostic groups: diseases of the circulatory system (SMR = 0.47; 95% CI 0.39–0.55), malignant neoplasms (SMR = 0.46; 95% CI 0.35–0.58), diseases of the respiratory system (SMR = 0.33; 95% CI 0.16–0.61) and external causes (SMR = 0.32; 95% CI 0.24–0.42). There was also noted a decrease in alcohol-related mortality (SMR = 0.27; 95% CI 0.13–0.49). Among the women, mortality was decreased for the diseases of the circulatory system (SMR = 0.40; 95% CI 0.29–0.53) and for external causes (SMR = 0.48; 95% CI 0.26–0.83) compared with the Estonian female population.
Conclusion. University education in sport sciences is characterized by reduced mortality both among men and women.