Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Golf Increases Life Expectancy

It sounds too good to be true, but playing a round of golf can add years to your life. Why?

Think about it: A round of golf takes about 5 hours to play. The whole time the golfer is outside, he is walking, taking in the sun and burning calories. In fact, 18 holes of golf burns 306 calories per hour (is you carry your own clubs –- 292/hour if you use a pull-cart for your bag and 238/hour if you ride in a golf cart). Could all this add up to a longer, healthier life?

The Swedish Golf Federation has more than 600,000 members (membership is required for playing almost everywhere in Sweden, so the list contains almost all of Sweden’s golfers). Here’s the great thing (if you are a statistician): Sweden also maintains a record of all the deaths that have taken place in Sweden for decades. Researchers were able to link the two databases to learn about the impact of golf on mortality. They compared the golfers and non-golfers and found that golfers were 40% less likely to have died than non-golfers of the same age.

Not only is golfing, in general, good for your life expectancy, but the more someone golfs, the greater his increase in health. When golfers handicaps were put into the equation, golfers with the lowest handicaps (indicating a better golfer who, in theory, plays more) had greater reductions in their risk of death.

Why Golf Improves Life Expectancy and Longevity

It could be that the increase in exercise for golfers explains the effect that researchers saw. Unfortunately, the analysis could not compare the exercise levels of the non-golfers. We don’t know for sure that the increased exercise explains the benefit. There could be other explanations like:
  • People with certain illnesses and certain health conditions cannot golf, therefore golfers only include healthy people.
  • People who golf are wealthier on average than people who don’t golf.