- Regularly golfing, at least once per month, was found to lower the risk of death among older adults.
- While the protective effects of playing golf have not been linked to reduction of heart attack and stroke risk, researchers note the positive effects of exercise and social interaction for older adults unable to participate in more strenuous exercise.
Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020
DALLAS, Feb. 12, 2020 — Regularly golfing – at least once per month – was found to lower the risk of death among older adults, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2020 – Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.
Golf, a sport played by approximately 25 million Americans, can provide benefits such as stress reduction and regular exercise. Due to its social nature and controlled pace, people often maintain motivation and the ability to continue playing the sport even in older age and after suffering heart attack or stroke.
“Our study is perhaps the first of its kind to evaluate the long-term health benefits of golf, particularly one of the most popular sports among older people in many countries,” said Adnan Qureshi, M.D., lead author and executive director of the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institutes and professor of neurology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans does not yet include golf in the list of recommended physical activities. Therefore, we are hopeful our research findings could help to expand the options for adults to include golf.”
Researchers analyzed data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a population-based observational study of risk factors for heart disease and stroke in adults 65 and older. Starting in 1989 and continuing through 1999, participants had extensive annual clinical exams and clinic visits every six months for the 10-year period. Once clinic visits ended, patients were contacted by phone to determine any occurrences of heart attack and stroke events. Patients who played golf at least once a month were considered regular golfers.
Out of almost 5,900 participants, average age 72, researchers identified 384 golfers (41.9% men). During follow-up, 8.1% of the golfers had suffered strokes and 9.8% of the golfers had heart attacks. When comparing death rates among golfers and non-golfers, researchers found a significantly lower rate of death among golfers compared to non-golfers, 15.1% compared to 24.6%, respectively.
“While walking and low intensity jogging may be comparable exercise, they lack the competitive excitement of golf,” Qureshi said. “Regular exercise, exposure to a less polluted environment and social interactions provided by golf are all positive for health. Another positive is that older adults can continue to play golf, unlike other more strenuous sports such as football, boxing and tennis. Additional positive aspects are stress relief and relaxation, which golf appears better suited for than other sports.”
While researchers were unable to determine if golfing had a direct impact on lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke, they are currently performing additional analyses to identify what other health conditions may benefit from regularly playing golf. They also did not specify whether the golfers walked or rode in a golf cart. Researchers are currently performing additional analyses to determine whether gender and race of golfers has any effect on their findings.
Co-authors are Omar Saeed, M.D. and Fareed Suri, M.D.
Researchers report no disclosures or funding.
- Video interview: AHA/ASA EPI and Stroke Council committee(s) member and volunteer expert, Daniel T. Lackland, Dr.PH.offers perspective (via Skype); B-roll and golf photos may be downloaded from the right column of the release link (click through thumbnails to select). https://newsroom.heart.org/news/golfing-regularly-could-be-a-hole-in-one-for-older-adults-health?preview=a4d34a45615d2f10f9e4394dc6349b4c
- Get in the Game with Sports Fitness
- How to Move More Anytime Anywhere
- For more news at ASA International Stroke Conference 2020, follow us on Twitter @HeartNews #ISC20.
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Stroke Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect Association policy or position. The Association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.
The American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference (ISC) is the world’s premier meeting dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health. ISC 2020 will be held February 19-21 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. The 2 ½-day conference features more than 1,600 compelling scientific presentations in 21 categories that emphasize basic, clinical and translational science for health care professionals and researchers. These science and other clinical presentations will provide attendees with a better understanding of stroke and brain health to help improve prevention, treatment and outcomes for the more than 800,000 Americans who have a stroke each year. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S. Worldwide, cerebrovascular accidents (stroke) are the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability, according to the World Health Organization. Engage in the International Stroke Conference on social media via #ISC20.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is a relentless force for a world with fewer strokes and longer, healthier lives. We team with millions of volunteers and donors to ensure equitable health and stroke care in all communities. We work to prevent, treat and beat stroke by funding innovative research, fighting for the public’s health, and providing lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based association was created in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit strokeassociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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