The Times

Katie Gibbons

Gerry Gajadharsingh writes:

“Interesting research showing that one in seven of those who played golf died during the study, compared with one in four of those who never played the sport.

Golf’s benefits expand beyond physical exercise and it has been found to reduce stress. Because of the social nature and controlled pace of the sport golfers may be able to continue playing even after a heart attack or stroke.

There may also be other reasons such as socio economic, the walking between holes (assuming a buggy is not used), the social aspects of the game, fresh air contact with nature I am sure are all contributory.

My mother took up golf later in life and its now a big part of her life and I am sure it’s doing her some good.”

Hitting the golf course once a month in later life has been linked to the risk of an early death being cut almost in half.

A ten-year study of 5,900 people found that those in their seventies who regularly played a round of golf were more likely still to be alive a decade later.

One in seven of those who played golf died during the study, compared with one in four of those who never played the sport.

Golf’s benefits expand beyond physical exercise and it has been found to reduce stress. Because of the social nature and controlled pace of the sport golfers may be able to continue playing even after a heart attack or stroke.

Adnan Qureshi, a neurologist at the University of Missouri and lead author of the study, 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 the 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.”

The study, which is believed to be the first of its kind evaluating the long-term health benefits of golf, is based on data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, an observational survey in the US of risk factors for heart disease and stroke in people aged over 65.

Beginning in 1989, the participants, whose average age was 72, had extensive annual medical examinations, as well as clinic visits every six months. After ten years they were contacted to determine if they had had a heart attack or stroke.

Of the 384 golfers who played once a month or more, 8.1 per cent had suffered strokes and 9.8 per cent had had a heart attack. Comparable figures for those who did not play golf were not published.

Forty-two per cent of the group were men and the rest women. More work is being carried out to determine if other health conditions may benefit from regularly playing golf, and if factors such as gender play a role.

In 2016 a study by a team at the University of Edinburgh suggested that the sport was likely to increase life expectancy, help chronic diseases and boost brainpower.

They found that it benefited the physical and mental health of people of all ages and that the physical gains increased with age.