Health & Wellness

Golf Can Be Good for You

New research points to a reduced risk for premature death among older golfers


People 65 or older who golf at least once a month tend to have a lower risk for premature death, according to research that will be presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles February 19 to 21.

Researchers discovered the association after analyzing the medical records of nearly 5,900 participants 65 or older throughout 1989 and 1999 and surveying participants in the years following to learn who had suffered a heart attack or stroke. Among the golfers, 8.1% had suffered a stroke since the study’s completion, while 9.8% had suffered a heart attack. The incidence of death from any cause was lower in comparison to non-golfers, 15.1% compared to 24.6%. Anyone who golfed at least once per month was considered a regular golfer.

“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, one of the lead author’s of the study and professor of neurology at the University of Missouri. “The US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans does not yet include golf in the list of recommended physical activities. We are hopeful our research findings could help to expand the options for adults to include golf.”

Researchers said that golfing appeals to older adults because it’s not as fast faced as other sports and provides ample opportunity to socialize, making people more motivated to return to the golf course regularly.

“Regular exercise, exposure to a less polluted environment and social interactions provided by golf are all positive for health,” Qureshi said. “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.”