Study finds playing golf is healthier than just walking

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 7, 2023 15:21

Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland have concluded that playing a round of golf is better for the heart for the over 65s than walking the same distance.

The researchers analysed data for 16 men and nine women who were all healthy and aged 65 and over.

The 25 participants were measured as they played an 18-hole round of golf, walked 3.7 miles and did 3.7 miles of Nordic walking, in which people use poles to work their upper body as well as their legs and core.

After each activity, blood samples were taken, as well as finger-prick tests, and their blood pressure was measured.

Participants also wore fitness measuring devices to measure distance, duration and pace, while an ECG sensor with a chest strap measured their heart rate.

The results, published in the journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise, revealed all three types of aerobic exercise improved their cardiovascular health, including lowering their blood pressure.

Yet it was golf — despite its ‘lower intensity’ — which gave the biggest benefits, the researchers said.

Playing golf led to the biggest drop in blood fats and the best metabolism of glucose, which keeps blood sugar levels stable.

The researchers wrote: ‘These age-appropriate aerobic exercises can be recommended to healthy older adults as a form of health-enhancing physical activity to prevent cardiovascular diseases.’

They added that golf can also be used ‘to improve cardiometabolic health among those who already have a cardiovascular disease’.

Sindy Jodar, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Any amount of physical activity, no matter how long or short, is good for heart and circulatory health.

“The current guidelines recommend aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week, and this can be split into short sessions that suit your lifestyle.

“Taking up exercise in later life – even if you’ve never done much before – can still bring health benefits.

“Check with your doctor first about what exercise is right for you if you have a heart or circulatory condition.”

Recently, doctors in Fife, Scotland have been prescribing golf to patients under a new health initiative in partnership with local golf clubs. In 2020 a US study into mortality among the over 65s found participants tended to live longer if they played golf at least once a month, and a 2012 Swedish study found that being an active member of a golf club could add three and a half years to an elderly person’s life.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 7, 2023 15:21
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  1. Wizard February 18, 17:29

    A round of golf for me is usually 14k to 15k steps. If I could shoot straight it might be 10k to 11k…

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ark Golf February 12, 10:43

    I ain’t no scientist and a fairway or two from Finland
    But can confirm I feel 100% after a round at TPGC Sheffield
    The Golf still requires a tat improvement
    But give it another 20 years or so me Lord
    And the journey to single figures might just become a reality. ❤️

    Reply to this comment
  3. BATCADDY February 8, 11:21

    Golf wins! Walking is definitely the way to go if you can. And there are options to walk besides carrying or pushing for those who can’t. Think electric powered push-carts. ️‍♂️⛳

    Reply to this comment
  4. JTesta February 8, 09:03

    ⛳️ Surely gets one out of the house and off the couch…
    #walkwithme #marchforth

    Reply to this comment
  5. Freemont February 8, 06:35

    Unfortunately, it’s not good for my shoulder. Miss the game badly.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Duggan February 7, 19:00

    This include playing poorly???

    Reply to this comment
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