Studies Show Playing Golf Leads to Better Health and Longer Life



Many of us have heard it. “Golf isn’t a sport.” And: “Golf isn’t exercise.” Among a certain crowd, golf doesn’t get much, if any, respect. But for those of us who play the game, we see it differently and feel better after time on the golf course.

The truth is, golf has many benefits, including health and longevity benefits. A 2016 study by the University of Edinburgh backs it up.

To explore the potential health benefits, University of Edinburgh researchers reviewed and compiled information from nearly 5,000 studies on the game of golf. What they learned may surprise you.

“We know that the moderate physical activity that golf provides increases life expectancy, has mental health benefits, and can help prevent and treat more than 40 major chronic diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Murray. “Evidence suggests golfers live longer than non-golfers, enjoying improvements in cholesterol levels, body composition, wellness, self-esteem and self-worth. Given that the sport can be played by the very young to the very old, this demonstrates a wide variety of health benefits for people of all ages.”

The study said golfers burn at least 500 calories per round. Carrying clubs will expend even more calories. Those who walk typically cover four to eight miles. And riding a golf cart? Hey, it’s better than riding the couch.

A 2008 study by the Karolinska Institute, a Swedish medical university, reached similar conclusions. Their study reviewed data from 300,000 Swedish golfers. It found the death rate of golfers was 40 percent lower than non-golfers. That equated to an additional five years of life.

These are persuasive reasons to keep playing golf, or to take up the game for your well-being and the pleasure golf brings. Even if you still have to listen to golf’s naysayers, now you know the chances are good that you’ll outlive them.

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Neil Sagebiel

Neil Sagebiel is a golf writer and author of two golf books published by St. Martin's Press, THE LONGEST SHOT and DRAW IN THE DUNES. He lives in Floyd, Virginia.

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