June 3, 2008 — You don’t have to feel guilty about taking Wednesday afternoon off to play golf. According to a new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet, golf is good for you. In fact, it prolongs life expectancy, provided you walk the course instead of ride in a cart.
According to the study, the death rate for golfers is 40 percent lower than for other people of the same sex, age, and socioeconomic status. This corresponds to a five-year increase in life expectancy.
Golfers with a low handicap have the longest life expectancy.
A team of researchers from Karolinska Institutet has now presented a studied the health effects of golf, which is a low-intensity form of exercise.
The study, which is published in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, is based on data from 300,000 Swedish golfers and shows that golf has beneficial health effects. The death rate among golfers is 40 per cent lower than the rest of the population, which equates to an increased life expectancy of five years.
Professor Anders Ahlbom, who led the study, was not surprised with the results of the study, as he believes that there are several aspects of the game that are proved to be good for the health.
“A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, and walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is known to be good for the health,” he said. “People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help.”
The study does not rule out that factors other than golfing, such as a generally healthy lifestyle, are also behind the lower death rate observed among golfers. However, the researchers believe it is likely that playing golf in itself has a significant impact on health.
Golf players have a lower death rate regardless of sex, age, and social group. The effect is greater for golfers from blue-collar professions than for those from white-collar professions. The lowest rates are found in the group of players with the lowest handicap.
Maintaining a low handicap involves playing a lot, so this supports the idea that it is largely the game itself that is good for the health, said Professor Ahlbom.
Source: Karolinska Institutet, www.ki.se