A new study from the University of Edinburgh claims that golfers may live longer than non-golfers and that the game has several other health, perhaps even mental benefits.
The study was presented at the PGAs of Europe Annual Congress in Turkey recently, where the PGA of South Africa attended as an international member.
The study took into account over 300 global studies on the relationship between golf and health and was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
According to its findings, golfers who walk a golf course and don’t use golf carts may live as much as five years longer than non-golfers. The regular physical activity associated with golf decreases the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and colon and breast cancer.
In particular, the study referred to a similar Swedish study which compared 300 818 golfers to non-golfers and discovered a 40% lower mortality rate among the golfers as a result of their higher weekly aerobic activity.
According to the study’s authors, ‘Playing golf can provide moderate intensity physical activity and has overall positive associations with physical health and mental wellness, while golf may contribute to increased longevity.’
More research is being done as to whether golf can decrease the risk of anxiety, depression and perhaps even dementia.
In South Africa, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) has long seen a link between golf and improved physical health.
CANSA, in partnership with Sanlam, this year celebrates the 25th year of the annual Sanlam Cancer Challenge where over 35 000 amateur golfers nationwide take part in annual club competitions as a means of encouraging better health, while also raising funds for CANSA.
Ivano Ficalbi, the Chief Executive of the PGA of South Africa, has welcomed the new study.
‘I think the message is clear that golf provides a number of benefits to society, and the improved health benefits are certainly a part of this. Too often people don’t think of golf as a sport, which it certainly is. So I’d encourage people to get out there and have fun playing golf, because it’s clearly good for you,’ he said.
By Michael Vlismas