News07 Apr 2021

World Athletics endorses regular health evaluations for athletes on World Health Day


People exercising (© AFP / Getty Images)

There is no doubt that regular physical activity is one of the best ways of increasing life expectancy. But while an active lifestyle has many benefits, it doesn’t come without risk.

For anyone who participates in sport at any level, there is potential for sustaining injuries or illness. Sometimes training and competing can even unmask underlying health conditions, especially those of a cardiac nature.

This is why World Athletics, along with the IOC and many other sports federations, is trying to highlight the importance of pre-participation medical evaluations (PPME) and periodic health evaluations (PHE) as means to safeguard and monitor athletes’ health.

A comprehensive PPME should include all aspects of health, including mental health, cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, nutrition and dietary habits. A PHE, meanwhile, gives a full assessment of an athlete’s current health status and risk of future injury or illness.

In its new Health Promotion Policy Paper, World Athletics Health and Science Department explains how PPMEs and PHEs can help with the prevention of acute unexpected health problems or life-threatening conditions, as well as the detection of asymptomatic underlying diseases.

They can also assist in the management of health conditions, while also supporting athletes’ physical and mental health, offering a more robust approach to living an active life.

"World Athletics wants to promote safe exercise and healthier lifestyles by encouraging all athletes to have regular medical checks," said World Athletics’ Medical Manager Paolo Emilio Adami. “Periodic health examinations raise awareness of cardiac symptoms, mental health and wellbeing, musculoskeletal imbalances, predisposition to injuries, and poor nutritional habits all of which can lead to illness and injury if not addressed."

Download the World Athletics health promotion policy paper on pre-participation medical evaluations and periodic health evaluations