Hitting the links could be a hole in one for your health

The American Heart Association cites research showing that regular golf can reduce the risk of death in older adults and provides other health benefits

DALLAS, March 31, 2022 — While golf was once known as the game of kings, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit focused on heart and brain health for all, says it’s no You don’t have to be a king or a professional player to enjoy the health benefits of hitting the links at your local golf course. Research presented at the Association’s International Stroke Conference in 2020 found that playing golf regularly – at least once a month – reduced the risk of death, especially in older people.

Golf can provide benefits such as stress reduction and regular exercise. Due to its social nature and generally slower, controlled pace, people of almost all ages and fitness levels can play the sport.

“Regular exercise, time spent outdoors enjoying nature, social interaction, and even the friendly competition of a round of golf can all promote mental and physical well-being,” said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, Sc.M., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association and chairman of the department of preventive medicine, Eileen M. Foell professor of cardiac research and professor of preventive medicine, medicine and of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. “The past two years have been difficult and many of us have adopted unhealthy behaviors such as eating more and less physical activity, and we have missed the company of our friends and family. I think golf can provide a great opportunity to once again venture into an enjoyable activity that can nourish our hearts and souls.

For the golf study, researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia analyzed data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a population-based observational study of heart disease risk factors and heart disease. stroke in adults 65 years and older. Of nearly 5,900 participants, with an average age of 72, the researchers identified nearly 400 regular golfers. Over the 10-year follow-up period, golfer mortality rates were significantly lower than non-golfer mortality rates.[1]

A comprehensive review of research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed more than 300 scientific studies, leading a panel of 25 public health experts to publish an international consensus statement, from several sports and golf organizations, noting the health and social benefits of golf.

“The American Heart Association recommends that most people get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Golf is considered moderate-intensity exercise, especially if you’re walking an 18-yard course. holes while carrying your golf clubs,” Lloyd-Jones said. “While you play golf, you increase your heart rate and blood circulation, improve brain stimulation, improve your balance and socialize. Even if you ride in a golf cart and playing a short 9-hole course, you’re still physically active, and we know that movement is better than nothing.

There are a few safety measures to consider before hitting the greens. Before you start, warm up with some stretching exercises and be sure to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. Also, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and don’t overheat. Be aware of the signs of heatstroke and if you or your fellow golfers experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 and seek emergency medical help immediately:

  • Fever (temperature over 104°F)
  • Irrational behavior
  • Extreme confusion
  • Dry, hot and red skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is an unrelenting force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are committed to equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with many organizations and millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for public health and share vital resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Join us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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For media inquiries and AHA/ASA expert insight: 214-706-1173

Cathy Lewis: 214-706-1324, [email protected]

For public inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org


[1] The study included 384 regular golfers (41.9% male), meaning they played at least once a month. During a ten-year follow-up, 8.1% of golfers had suffered strokes and 9.8% of golfers had had heart attacks. Comparing death rates among golfers and non-golfers, the researchers found a significantly lower death rate among golfers compared to non-golfers, 15.1% versus 24.6%, respectively.

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