Playing golf could save twice as many lives as obesity kills

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 26, 2015 11:39

A major 12-year University of Cambridge study has found that twice as many people die each year from inactivity than they do from obesity, and that the walking benefits from golf could reverse the problem.

Researchers followed 334,161 Europeans for 12 years, assessing exercise levels and waistlines, and recorded every death.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, attempted to tease out the relative dangers of inactivity and obesity.

“The greatest risk [of an early death] was in those classed inactive, and that was consistent in normal weight, overweight and obese people,” one of the researchers, Professor Ulf Ekelund said.

obesity tony alter

Image by Tony Alter


He said eliminating inactivity in Europe would cut mortality rates by nearly 7.5 percent, or 676,000 deaths, but eliminating obesity would cut rates by just 3.6 percent.

“But I don’t think it’s a case of one or the other. We should also strive to reduce obesity, but I do think physical activity needs to be recognised as a very important public health strategy.

“I think people need to consider their 24-hour day.

“Twenty minutes of physical activity, equivalent to a brisk walk, should be possible for most people.”

Commenting on the findings, a spokesman for the charity Heart Research UK, said: “This study once again reinforces the importance of being physically active, even when carrying excess weight.

“Changing your lifestyle is all good news for heart health, but physical activity is always easier to achieve and maintain without carrying the extra ‘body baggage’ of too much weight.

“The results of this study are a clear reminder that being regularly physically active can reduce the risk of dying from coronary heart disease.

“The research suggests that just a modest increase in physical activity can have health benefits.

“Adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, carrying it out in sessions of 10 minutes or more.

“Playing golf regularly could be adding years to your life compared with those not participating in regular activity. Walking is one of the best ways to get your dose of heart-healthy activity and, with the average round of golf involving walking anything between three and seven miles, golfing is an excellent work out.

“Depending on the size of the course, the terrain, and your pace, golfers can burn as many calories as a 45 minute intense workout, especially if carrying their own clubs or pulling a trolley.

“Golf is a low-injury risk sport to be enjoyed with friends, and playing outdoors throughout the year will give your body plenty of opportunity to top up on vitamin D. Regular golfing may also help to reduce stress, so focus on taking the perfect shot and blow your worries and those cobwebs away.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 26, 2015 11:39
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