In preceding studies targeting the beneficial effects of strenuous exercise, researchers established improvements in cognition and mental health among older adults. In a new study, a research team conducted examinations on the state of golfers in late-adulthood and uncovered profound positive effects on cardiovascular and brain health.
In the new study, the team pivoted their focus on data from a population-based observational study on cardiovascular risk factors among adults 65 years of age and over. The study, known as the Cardiovascular Health Study, contained over 5,000 participants of which all underwent extensive annual clinical examinations every six months for a span of 10 years, beginning in 1989.
Out of the thousands of participants, 384 were regarded as golfers, a classification given to individuals who engaged in golfing activities at least once a month.
Upon analyzing results from annual clinical exams, researchers found golfers to be drastically healthier and correlated with lower rates of fatal cardiovascular complications compared to non-golfers.
Additionally, golfing was presumed to be an effective stress reliever, with similar effects to other sports like boxing, tennis, and football, the findings suggest.
“While walking and low intensity jogging may be comparable exercise, they lack the competitive excitement of golf,” said Zeenat Qureshi, the study’s lead author and a professor of neurology at the University of Missouri.
“Regular exercise, exposure to a less polluted environment and social interactions provided by golf are all positive for health,” Qureshi added. “Another positive is that older adults can continue to play golf, unlike other more strenuous sports such as football, boxing and tennis. Additional positive aspects are stress relief and relaxation, which golf appears better suited for than other sports.”
“Our study is perhaps the first of its kind to evaluate the long-term health benefits of golf, particularly one of the most popular sports among older people in many countries,” Qureshi concluded.