Golfers Live Longer. Really?

A study based on data from 300,000 Swedish golfers produced a surprising result. The death rate of the Swedish golfers was 40 percent lower than for others of the same sex, age and socioeconomic factors.

This translates into a five-year increase in life expectancy. Given that there are an estimated 60 million golfers in the world, this is certainly good news.

But, as often happens with good news, there’s a catch or, in this case, several. First, those who benefitted the most were golfers with a low handicap. This makes sense, as those golfers likely play more golf. But it’s not good news for those of us – by far the majority – who don’t have a low handicap. I’ve heard a number of times that the average golfer in the U.S. who records scores has a handicap of 15 or higher.

The other catch is that European golfers primarily walk versus riding in a cart. Some even carry their clubs. Those in the latter category can burn 1,200 calories or more in a four-hour round. Most of the golfers I know in southwest Florida – make that 99% – ride in a cart.

What about other benefits? Certainly the social interaction with others is a plus. There’s also the benefit of an intellectual challenge, as playing golf requires concentration and skill development. Honing a golf swing builds stronger synapses in our brain – the electrical connections between neurons. The more we do an activity, the stronger the connections.

Here are a couple of ideas to maximize the benefit:

• If you’re physically able and are allowed, consider walking versus riding in a cart at least part of the time. I do this at my club in Pennsylvania, carrying my bag. The six-mile walk with 1,000 feet of elevation is great exercise. Some courses are closer to five miles in length.

• If riding in a cart is the rule, try walking at least part of the time. I play with a friend who’s working to become healthier; he negotiates with his cart partner and ends up walking most of the time.


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2 Responses to Golfers Live Longer. Really?

  1. Betty Martin says:

    Hi Harry,
    Anyone reading your articles would think that you had been writing forever. (Well, maybe you have!) There is always plenty to think about in your emails.
    I’m wondering how you could distribute your articles into high schools. Today’s article (goals…thinking and planning ahead) could be especially beneficial to kids that age. Would any school want you to write a guest column once in a while? Just a fleeting thought.

  2. Neale Sweet says:

    Your concept of intrinsic and external motivation tells it as it really is in the real world. Self-understanding is the foundation of any serious commitment to achieve a meaningful objective. You have hit that nail squarely on the head. All that touchy-feely anyone-can-do-anything thinking seems pretty puerile beside your model. Amazing that those feel good books sold as well as they did. Or, given human nature, maybe it’s not so surprising after all. In any event, I a believer in the FOF strain of thinking.

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