Study finds older people ‘live longer’ if they play golf

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 4, 2020 08:33

A US study into mortality among the over 65s in the 1990s, which has just been published, has found participants tended to live longer if they played golf at least once a month.

Researchers at the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute in Minnesota studied data about a group of nearly 5,900 adults, with an average age of 72, from 1989 to 1999. Everyone studied was over the age of 65 and underwent extensive medical examinations every six months. They all also provided details about their lifestyles and exercise.

Of all the people examined, 384 played golf at least once a month. About 15 per cent of them died during the decade. However, of the more than 5,500 adults who weren’t golfers, about 25 per cent of them died before the year 2000.

The findings were gathered retrospectively from an existing set of data in the US, known as the Cardiovascular Health Study, and were compiled in order to assess risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Lead author and professor of neurology, Dr Adnan Qureshi, said golf should be among the physical activities recommended to older adults.

He said: “While walking and low intensity jogging may be comparable exercise, they lack the competitive excitement of golf.

“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.”

The researchers could not say whether playing golf had a specific protective benefit against heart attacks or strokes, or whether those playing golf had walked or rode on golf buggies.

A follow up study is underway, however, looking at whether gender or race are factors and what other conditions may benefit from golf.

Dr Ulf Ekelund, a professor of sports medicine in Norway, said it could be that golfers had healthier lifestyles overall, such as lower smoking rates, but that this had not been taken into account by the study.

He said: “Other studies have consistently shown that physical activity of any intensity is associated with a reduced risk of death.

“If older individuals like to play golf, they should continue, but I am sure regular walking is equally good for health and longevity.”

A 2016 study by Edinburgh University found that people who played golf lived longer on average than those who did not.

After reviewing 5,000 existing studies, the researchers said the sport was likely to increase life expectancy, help chronic diseases and boost brainpower.

Balance and muscle endurance in older people were improved by playing the sport, they said.

Golfing could also help those who suffered chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, as well as helping reduce the risk of anxiety, depression and dementia.

The study found golfers typically burnt a minimum of 500 calories over 18 holes.

While a 2012 study found that being an active member of a golf club could add three and a half years to an elderly person’s life.

Golf ‘will make you live longer’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 4, 2020 08:33
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  1. Pete USA March 5, 14:33

    I’m 73, carry my bag, play a quick 18 holes walking on par 68-70 courses, in 2 1/2 – 3 hours, two to three times a week and have a full time job. Play good golf & love the game!

    PS. I regularly play with 80 & 90 year olds who play great golf!

    So how do I do this?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mark March 2, 12:12

    I won’t not unless I sort my putting issues!!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Scott March 2, 10:22

    Ha…..Not carrying a staff bag they won’t!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Chris February 28, 12:49

    That’s welcome news as we all grow older

    Reply to this comment
  5. Cynthia February 28, 12:48

    We know! They fill the clubs!! 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  6. Sue February 28, 09:17

    Good news. I knew golf was a good sport to get involved with – mental toughness, flexibility, stamina, sociability, enjoying the green space, strategy, all skills that keep us fit and able into old age. What’s not to love?

    Reply to this comment
  7. Peter February 28, 08:19

    I’ll tell my wife.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Andrew February 27, 13:51

    Which is why is so on the money Alistair. Personally, my ability to play the damned game is so poor these days compared to earlier times that I suspect any longevity of years is cancelled out . But at least it’s fun getting there……

    Reply to this comment
  9. Dave February 27, 13:38

    Never doubted it Tosh. Kenny, Joshua, Jason!!!!

    Reply to this comment
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