health benefits of golf

Live five years longer by playing golf

Did you know that simply by playing golf you can extend your life by 5 years in comparison to non-golfers? The research is piling up on the wide range of health benefits you receive from playing golf. Find out how “a good walk spoiled” could be exactly what you need!

If someone handed you a chance to live an extra 5 years, would you take it? Or would you tell him he’s dreaming?

As we all get older, we know that health conditions and chronic disease are more likely to occur and try and rob us of our healthy years. The challenge is how do we stay healthy and active as we age, particularly when sports like football, netball, soccer, and basketball get harder and harder to keep up with once middle age strikes. Fortunately, golf has a Benjamin Button effect, with more golfers being middle age to older adults, plus the added bonus of being able to play across the whole lifespan. It’s not uncommon for me, as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, to be helping golfers aged between 5 and 95 years old with movement and golf performance.

Show me the health benefits of golf:

1. Improved longevity

A Swedish study compared 300,818 golfers to non-golfers and found a 40% lower mortality rate, which was calculated to equal a 5-year increase in life expectancy regardless of gender, age or socioeconomic status.

2. Improved cardiovascular fitness

If the magic 10,000 steps per day is eluding you, walking 18 holes will cover it. Typically this will take between 11,000 and 17,000 steps over 7-13 kilometres! Those driving a golf cart still total 6,000 steps over 6 kilometres. Golf provides low-moderate intensity aerobic physical activity and, is not only safe for those with pre-existing health conditions, but can help you achieve the Australian National Physical Activity guideline of 150+ minutes per week of moderate physical activity.

3. Reduced risk of chronic conditions

Reduced chance of getting heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer (colon and breast).

4. Positive Mental Health

Golfers benefit from improved self-esteem, confidence, and reduced anxiety.

5. Enhanced social connectedness

Developing interpersonal skills and emotional control. Ever heard a golfer be short on words about his or her golf game? Me neither!

6. Boosts strength and balance

This is particularly found in the elderly.


Sign me up, how do I start?

As time for sport decreases and advances in technology increases, the way golf is being played is changing. For example, if you are just starting out, you can play rain, hail or night time with indoor simulators allowing you to play any course in the world with all the modern-day comforts. There are also faster versions of golf now. My favourite? Speedgolf, where you run and play, adding your time in minutes to your golf score.

Even some of the more progressive golf clubs are changing the way they do things by providing additional services and facilities such as health professionals on-site, gyms, walking routes, crèches and a greater focus on providing healthy foods.

How do I keep playing and reaping the benefits?

If you are already addicted and are looking to reap the health benefits long term, it is worth being aware that overall the incidence of injury in golf is moderate, however, the rate of injury per hour played is actually low . Often, poor movement and swing biomechanics lead to injuries, with the most common being in the lower back for amateurs.

The good news is there are steps you can take to get on top of your back pain or make sure this doesn’t happen to you in the first place! Having a golf fitness plan in place to help keep you moving as best possible will help you avoid and/or better recover from injury, improve performance and assist you in your journey to play better for longer! After all, it’s your body that moves the club which is followed by the club hitting the ball into the hole! Exercise Physiologists who are Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Level 1 qualified (or higher) would be best suited to help create your golf fitness program as they’ve been specifically upskilled in how the body is required to move for optimum golf performance (a.k.a. body-swing connection).

You can find a local TPI expert here and Accredited Exercise Physiologist here.

Golf just isn’t for me!

Did I mention spectating can get the same benefits? Recent research has found that golf is unique to other sports in the way that the spectators can move around the course and accumulate physical activity. Perhaps consider wandering around the golf course and tagging along with a friend or loved one. The golf bug might just get you!

Remember (particularly if you’re having a terrible day, golf wise!):

  • Golf is lifelong and adds healthy life years.
  • You receive multiple physical, mental and social health benefits playing golf.
  • Having a golf fitness plan will help you stay off the bench and loving the game.
  • Walk, spectate or take a cart. It all counts.

If you want help to improve your swing, or just your general health and well-being, chat to your local accredited exercise professional.

To find one near you, click here. 

Happy golfing!

Ben is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and the owner of Tailored Golf.