The death rate for golfers is 40 percent lower than for other people of the same sex, age and socioeconomic status, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
This equates to a five-year increase in life expectancy said the scientists, led by Anders Ahlbom and Bahman Farahmand at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Golfers with a low handicap are the best protected, they noted.
“A round of golf means being outside for 4 or 5 hours, walking at a fast pace for about 4 miles, something which is known to be good for health,‘‘ Ahlbom said. “People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help.‘‘
The study was based on data from 300,000 Swedish golfers. Other factors, such as a generally healthy lifestyle, may help explain the lower death rate seen among golfers, the scientists said. It is still likely that playing the game has a significant impact in itself on health, Ahlbom and Farahmand said.
The effect on the death rate was greater for golfers from so-called blue-collar professions than for those from white- collar professions, the researchers said. The lowest rates of mortality were found in the group of players with the lowest handicap.
‘Golf – a game of life and death. Reduced mortality in Swedish golf players’ by B. Farahmand, G. Broman, U. De Faire, D. Và¥gerö & A. Ahlbom, is published in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 30 May 2008.
Karolinska Institutet is one of the leading medical universities in Europe. Through research, education and information, Karolinska Institutet contributes to improving human health. Each year, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
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