Spending most of your retirement at the golf course may sound like a bit of a cliché. But playing a round or two may be good for your health as you get older say US experts.

According to statista.com, not far off a million people in England play golf at least twice a month, making golf one of the most popular sports in the country. And no doubt all those golfers will be delighted to learn they may have a lower risk of dying than non-golfers. In fact, during the 10 years the study ran for, golfers had a death rate of 15.1 per cent. Compare that to the 24.6 per cent death rate among the non-golfers, and you may feel the urge to start teeing up too.

Published in the journal Stroke, the study followed around 5,900 older people, 384 of whom played golf regularly. The benefits could well be a result of all that strolling around a golf course, but the study didn’t look at whether or not the golfers walked or used a buggy. It didn’t have anything to do with heart health either, the researchers claim, since the rate of heart attacks and strokes was more or less the same among the golfers and non-golfers.

Nevertheless the researchers are now hoping that golf will soon be officially included in the physical activity guidelines drawn up by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

But why golf, you may wonder? Dr Adnan Qureshi, executive director of the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute and professor of neurology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, offers this: “While walking and low-intensity jogging may be comparable exercise, they lack the competitive excitement of golf. Another positive is that older adults can continue to play golf, unlike other more strenuous sports such as football, boxing and tennis.”

Qureshi, the study’s lead author, also claims golf is better at providing stress relief and relaxation than other sports.

This research was recently presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

Fancy taking a swing at it? Take a look at this BBC guide on getting into golf.


Photo by Morgan David de Lossy on Unsplash