From the fresh smell of a recently mowed fairway to the gentle breeze that aids your backswing, there’s nothing that beats a sunny afternoon spent on the golf course. When it comes to promoting active senior living, it’s difficult to find a sport with as many health benefits as golf does. Not only is it a convenient excuse to go outside and spend the day socializing with friends, but there has been plenty of research conducted that demonstrates exactly how the game of golf can change your life for the better. Whether you’re a wiz with a driver or you’re prone to spending too much time in the sand, here’s why the game of golf provides healthy benefits for players of all levels:

Live longer
While this might sound like something the most avid of golfers would say, frequenting the course may just help you live a longer life. Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden conducted a study that analyzed data and health records from more than 300,000 Swedish golfers, while following how their golfing habits impacted the overall longevity of their lives. After reviewing the subjects for several years, the researchers ultimately concluded that those who continued to play golf as they aged were expected to live five years longer than non-golfers who were the same age. The results also indicated that the lower the handicap of a golfer, the longer life they would have.

Dr. Anders Ahlbom, a professor at the Karolinska Institutet and one of the leading authors of the study, expressed how the combination of physical activity and social engagement involved with a routine game of golf is one of the best aging tips out out there for seniors to take note of.

“A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometers, something which is known to be good for the health,” Ahlbom said in a statement. “People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help. Maintaining a low handicap involves playing a lot, so this supports the idea that it is largely the game itself that is good for the health.”

Increasing mobility
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like you’re exerting too much energy during a round of golf. But in reality, you’re passively putting your body to the test, whether you realize it or not. A study published by researchers at Coastal Carolina University examined all the dynamics of physical activity that can go into an average game of golf. If you decide to go against using a golf cart, the researchers concluded that you’re adding approximately 40 percent more intensity of physical activity to your golf game. This is mainly due to a number of factors besides the increase in time spent walking, such as strolling uphill for various holes or the extra strength you’re summoning by carrying your clubs or using a push cart.

In fact, the researchers noted that seniors who walk with a pull cart for nine holes will spend an average of 64 minutes, or roughly 58 percent of their time on the course working at a moderate or higher physical intensity. This is also more than enough to meet the standards of the American College Sports Medicine’s guidelines for daily physical activity seniors should be receiving.

Staying social
Nevermind all the physical benefits – the real reason golfing is such a great game for seniors is getting out with your friends and having fun. Make a round a golf a weekly routine with those who are closest to you, and relish all the advantages you’re providing for your health.

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