Editors' BlogMay 31, 2008

Golf is good for you, sort of

Here's the scoop: Playing golf while walking prolongs your life. On the other hand, it messes up your swing. At least that's what two separate studies announced over the past few days suggest.

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The first study of Swedish golfers, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, found that the death rate among golfers is 40 per cent lower than the rest of the population. In short, those folks live five years longer:

Professor Anders Ahlbom, who has led the study with Bahman Farahmand is not surprised at the result, as he believes that there are several aspects of the game that are proved to be good for the health. "A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is known to be good for the health," he says. "People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help." >

On the other hand, a second study presented to 55th American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) meeting in Indianapolis, followed seven American golfers who walk and determined that their swings deteriorate because of the exercise. From the Medical News Today story:

While walking the golf course is an excellent form of physical activity, this study suggests that it may have an impact on a golfer's swing and performance, gradually decreasing club head velocity and shot consistency. This may be particularly noticeable if golfers carry their bags while walking.

The conclusions of researchers Nick R. Higdon and Eric Dugan almost sounded like a promo for Stack & Tilt:

Over the course of the protocol, the golfers were less able to achieve an appropriate weight transfer to the lead leg. This resulted in decreased club head velocity, which affects the distance the ball will travel. Additionally, the study showed the angles of the lead knee and lead ankle at the top the swing are affected by time. These factors typically affect the accuracy of the shot.

The researchers conclude that golfers who want to walk ought to work out more if they don't want their swings to suffer.

"I think many golfers are realizing that their bodies are the most important tool they have in the golf swing, and that improving physical fitness may be more helpful than expensive golf clubs," said Higdon. "The study suggests that golf mechanics change and performance may decline the longer the golfer walks and swings. Getting in better shape may help golfers combat the effects of fatigue while playing golf."

Taken together the two studies suggest that if you want to live five years longer, get in shape.

Check out our "Fit at 50" story of last November for ways to do it.

--Bob Carney

(Illustration by Christian Northeast)

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