Is golf considered physical exercise? Given the leisurely pace at which this sport is commonly practiced, that’s a question many health enthusiasts are probably wondering.
Now, thanks to a study published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, we may have the answer…and it’s sure to surprise you.
Study: Golf as Exercise
When it comes to sports, golf isn’t generally considered the most physically active, but it turns out that a round of golf has surprising benefits for body and mind. In fact, it might even be more beneficial than other forms of exercise, like Nordic walking (which is quite beneficial on its own). This is revealed by the BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine study conducted in Finland. To reach this conclusion, the researchers looked at three age-appropriate forms of aerobic exercise: golf, Nordic walking and walking and their effects on health.
Specifically, 25 healthy golfers (nine women and 16 men) between the ages of 64 and 72 participated in a randomized crossover experiment for all three forms of exercise: playing 18 holes of golf, doing a six-kilometre Nordic walk, or a classic six kilometer walk. The study then compared the effects of these three activities on blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
They found that all three forms of exercise had positive effects on these cardiometabolic markers, with Nordic walking and normal walking providing greater exercise intensity and greater decreases in diastolic blood pressure. However, somewhat surprisingly, golf had a greater positive impact on glucose metabolism and lipid profile, in part due to the longer duration to play 18 holes of golf.
The study authors ultimately concluded:
“Acute aerobic exercise improves the cardiovascular profile of healthy older adults. Despite the lower exercise intensity of golf, the longer duration and higher energy expenditure appear to have a more positive effect on lipid profile and glucose metabolism compared to Nordic walking and walking.”
They add :
“In conclusion, the three types of EA improve the cardiovascular profile of the elderly when practiced intensively, despite the differences in duration and intensity. However, the lower exercise intensity of golf compared to Nordic walking and walking, the longer duration and the higher total energy expenditure involved in playing golf appear to have a positive effect on the lipid profile. and glucose metabolism.
These age-appropriate physical activities can be recommended to healthy older adults as a form of health-enhancing physical activity to prevent cardiovascular disease and can also be used as a treatment strategy to improve cardiometabolic health in older adults. people already suffering from a cardiovascular disease”.
The benefits of golf
Although the Finnish study was limited in scope and had other limitations, by the researchers’ own admission, several other studies have shown the beneficial effects of golf as exercise.
For example, a large body of evidence published in 2017 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine highlighted many benefits associated with golf, including:
– Improved cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic profiles
– Improved general well-being
– Aerobic benefits, including walking between four and eight miles during a round of golf.
– Can be practiced at low, moderate or high intensity.
– May improve proprioception, balance, muscle endurance and function, especially in the elderly.
– May help reduce mortality and increase longevity
– May help treat and/or prevent chronic diseases, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and colon and breast cancers.
– May improve and help maintain lung function
– Helps to create social bonds, which is beneficial for mental health
– Promotes overall improvement in mental health and well-being, in part through time spent in nature.
Overall, the researchers in this study concluded that practitioners and policymakers can be encouraged to get more people to play golf, due to the improved physical health and mental well-being that comes with it. stems from, and the potential contribution to the increase in life expectancy.
Injuries and illnesses associated with golf have been identified and risk reduction strategies are warranted. Other research priorities include systematic reviews to further explore the causal nature of the relationships described. Research on the contribution of golf to muscle building, balance, and fall prevention, as well as further evaluation of the associations and effects between golf and mental health are also indicated.