22 Oct 2018 | Golf Australia | Industry news |

Golf the ticket to better health

by Golf Australia

For all ages and genders, golf has been proven to help long-term health.
For all ages and genders, golf has been proven to help long-term health.

World public health leaders have backed golf as a prime vehicle to tackle serious health issues.

Evidence linking golf and health, commissioned by the World Golf Foundation and supported by The R&A, was presented last week in London at the 7th Congress of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health.

The meeting was told that golf was a consensus choice to tackle physical inactivity to help prevent a range of non-communicable disease including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer of the breast and colon.

Findings, in research led by the University of Edinburgh and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed playing golf was associated with a range of physical and mental health benefits, and that further collaborative efforts to improve access for the sport are needed.

New studies have begun to discover if playing golf improves strength and balance, that it can contribute to a key public health goal of fall prevention in healthy aging and into conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, spoke after the congress which was attended by more than 1000 delegates from 60 countries.

“Golf is working hard to encourage more people into the sport who will realise its many health benefits. With 60 million golfers spanning six continents, golf has found common purpose in working with public health practitioners and policymakers to optimise the health benefits of playing the sport,” Slumbers said.

“We will work with our affiliates and partners around the world to help improve health and wellbeing through golf.”

Professor Fiona Bull, World Health Organisation non-communicable disease prevention program manager, said: “Non-communicable disease is responsible for nearly three quarters of all premature deaths globally, including 15 million deaths per year in people aged 30 to 70 years.

“The new WHO global action plan and the implementation toolkit ‘ACTIVE’ aims to help all countries improve the environments and the opportunities for all people to be more active. Golf is a popular sport for men and women and it is great to see golf’s global leadership recognising health priorities and identifying ways golf can be more accessible to more people.

“I took up golf in my 30s but thought it was a very technical, expensive and elitist sport. Thankfully a six-week ‘come and try course’ showed me how easy it was to enjoy golf as a beginner and how active playing nine holes can be.

“I am looking forward to seeing how golf can attract many more girls and women to enjoy the sport and be more active and healthy.”

Annika Sorenstam, 10-time major champion and a global ambassador for golf and health, said: “Golf is great for the health of people of all ages – it benefits those playing the sport and even tournament spectators.

“Given the health benefits, we must work together to make golf more accessible if we are to achieve our sport’s full potential.”

The 2018 International Consensus Statement on Golf and Health to guide action by people, policymakers and the golf industry was published last month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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