French riders in the Tour de France live an average of six years longer than the general population and die less often of cardiovascular problems, according to researchers, reports The Guardian.
The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress on Tuesday, examined all 786 French competitors in the gruelling bicycle race from 1947 to 2012, and found their death rate was 41% lower than average for French males as of last September.
Dr Xavier Jouven of the European Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris, who led the analysis, said the result suggested that doctors should be more assertive in championing vigorous exercise.
"We should encourage people to exert themselves," he said. "If there was a real danger in doing high-level exercise then we should have observed it in this study."
Riders in the Tour de France – which has been compared to running a marathon several days a week for nearly three weeks – had a 33% lower risk of death from heart attacks or strokes than the general population.
Read more of this Reuters report published by The Guardian.