Golf Beats Walking For Health Benefits

Walking is an established way of staying fit, but a new study says that playing golf may be an even better option for older adults. Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found that hitting the links is better exercise for people over the age of 65 than regular walking or Nordic walking, which utilizes poles to work the upper body as well.

According to Study Finds, the team of researchers studied the benefits of all three types of aerobic exercise by looking at markers of cardiometabolic health in terms of intensity, duration, and energy expenditure. The study followed 25 healthy golfers ages 65 and older, comparing the impact of an 18-hole round of golf, walking for 3.7 miles, or Nordic walking over the same distance, on their blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood lipid profile. The team also took blood samples, blood glucose finger-prick tests, and measured each participant’s blood pressure. The golfers wore an ECG sensor with a chest strap to record their heart rate.

The results, published in the journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, found that all three types of exercise improve the cardiovascular profile of older adults. The three types of aerobic exercise lowered the group’s systolic blood pressure, the top number, while walking and Nordic walking also led to a decrease in diastolic blood pressure, the lower number.

But despite the fact golfing is a lower intensity form of exercise than walking or Nordic walking, the duration of the time spent on the golf course positively affected lipid profiles and glucose metabolism, proving the benefits of the higher total energy expenditure of the game.

The study authors noted that there were limitations to their research. It was a small sample size, and the accuracy of the fitness devices is debatable. Carrying out the study in a real-life environment is not as reliable as in a laboratory setting, they admitted. Also, the researchers recruited golfers because they thought non-golfers would have a difficult time playing their first round of golf. For many of the participants, it was their first attempt at Nordic walking so that might have influenced their performance results.

“Despite the lower exercise intensity of golf, the longer duration and higher energy expenditure appeared to have a more positive effect on lipid profile and glucose metabolism than Nordic walking or walking,” the study authors said in a news release. “These age-appropriate aerobic exercises can be recommended to healthy older adults as a form of health-enhancing physical activity to prevent cardiovascular diseases and can be used as a treatment strategy to improve cardiometabolic health among those who already have cardiovascular disease.”

More benefits of golfing? According to Golf Digest, a recent study found that golfers who walked the course instead of using a cart burned more calories, had better focus and actually shot lower scores.

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