Good for your health

Weekend golf is enough to improve your health

Mates playing golf

If you’re working all week and can only play golf at the weekend, it can still boost your health.

Many busy people are desk-bound all week and can only find time to stay active on their days off – but a new study shows this can still reduce the risk of an early death by a third.

The Government recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. However, the research finds that you can still keep fit and healthy and live longer by cramming the whole lot into one or two sessions at the weekend – for example, by playing 9 or 18-holes of golf.

Scientists from Loughborough University, in collaboration with Harvard University and the University of Sydney, looked at data from more than 63,000 adults aged 40-plus. It found that exercise ‘weekend warriors’ - who fit all their exercise into one or two days a week - were a third less likely to die from all causes, included cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Golf is a great way to reach the recommended levels of 150 minutes a week of moderate activity.  A 9-hole game of golf will contribute towards this or you can achieve the total recommended level if you play both Saturday and Sunday.

Dr Gary O'Donovan study author and expert in physical activity and health, from Loughborough University, said the key was doing exercise that was "purposeful, and done with the intention of improving health".

Golf is ‘purposeful’ because the game is rich with both short-term and long-term goals, from challenging yourself to playing better shots to improving your handicap or winning a competition.

Brisk walking between holes and carrying your bag of clubs can raise your heart rate. Swinging your clubs and bending down to pick up the ball can also work your muscles and improve balance and co-ordination.

Golf is so much fun and such a sociable game, that’s you’ll also find it easier to stick with exercise and will hardly notice the time passing because it is so enjoyable.

Weekend warriors lowered their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 41% and from cancer by 18% compared to inactive people.

Even those who didn’t quite reach the recommended 150 minutes a week, still benefitted from moving more – reducing their risk of an early death by 37% and 18% respectively compared to those who did nothing at all.

Justin Varney, national lead for adult health and wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE), said: "The maximum health benefits are achieved from 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.”

To find 9-hole offers and directory of courses visit Places to play