Long-term veterans 'may enjoy healthier lives'

People who serve in the Armed Forces for a long period of time may be less likely to die early than non-veterans, according to a new study.

The research was carried out at the University of Glasgow and examined the long-term risk of mortality among former soldiers living in Scotland who had served between 1960 and 2012 before comparing it with data from people who had never signed up.

It was found that there was no difference between veterans and non-veterans - but those who had served for more than 12 years had an 18 per cent reduced risk of early death compared to non-veterans the same age.

Furthermore, the veterans who had died were 18 per cent more likely to have had a smoking-related health condition, suggesting the benefits may have been even more pronounced had they not smoked.

Interestingly, those with the shortest service had a 15 per cent higher risk of early death, which lead researcher Dr Beverly Bergman said may be down to socio-economic circumstances following discharge.

Writing in the journal Occupational Medicine, she added: "This is an important study which provides further reassurance that longer military service is beneficial to health."

The findings are likely to be down to the fact that the Army, Navy and Air Force all require a strict exercise programme to be carried out on a regular basis, which includes cardiovascular training and the building of endurance, strength and flexibility.

During the First World War, it was recorded that many troops had put on a stone in weight and grown two inches during their first year of service due to the physical training and three meals a day.

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