New research suggests playing the sport can reduce stress, help lower the risk of stroke and even prevent early death.
After analysing data collected between 1989 and 1999 from the Cardiovascular Health Study – an observational study of risk factors for heart disease and stroke in adults aged 65 and older, researchers noticed a significantly lower risk of heart attacks in those who golfed at least once a month.
In the study featuring almost 5900 participants with an average age of 72, 384 played golf ( 161 men, 223 women). Scientists noted that 8.1 per cent of golfers suffered strokes while 9.8 per cent had heart attacks. Meanwhile, the rate was significantly higher in non-golfers: 15.1 per cent strokes and 24.6 per cent heart attacks.
“Our study is perhaps the first of its kind to evaluate the long-term health benefits of golf, particularly one of the most popular sports among older people in many countries,” said Adnan Qureshi, M.D., lead author and executive director of the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institutes and professor of neurology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans does not yet include golf in the list of recommended physical activities. Therefore, we are hopeful our research findings could help to expand the options for adults to include golf.”
“While walking and low intensity jogging may be comparable exercise, they lack the competitive excitement of golf,” Qureshi continued.
“Regular exercise, exposure to a less polluted environment and social interactions provided by golf are all positive for health. Another positive is that older adults can continue to play golf, unlike other more strenuous sports such as football, boxing and tennis. Additional positive aspects are stress relief and relaxation, which golf appears better suited for than other sports.”
However, more research is needed to confirm whether golfers walked between holes or used carts.
Meanwhile, according to a report by Harvard University, hanging out with the boys can also reduce mortality risk factors.
“Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet and not smoking,” researchers explain.
“Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems and live longer.”
We’ll tee off to that.