Supported by Annika Sorenstam, the Golf & Health project aims to promote golf as a means to tackle physical inactivity and prevent a range of diseases. 

Golf & Health

Dr Andrew Murray, Professor Fiona Bull, Annika Sorenstam, Martin Slumbers, Professor Charlie Foster and Craig Tracey at The 1st International Congress on Golf and Health in Westminster, London

If you're a regular golfer, you'll likely be a strong advocate for this already, but now it's official. Golf has been proven to enhance your health, both physically and mentally, and could even prevent serious diseases.

Supported by Annika Sorenstam, the Golf & Health project aims to promote golf as a means to tackle physical inactivity and help prevent a range of potentially life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer of the breast and colon.

Evidence linking golf and health, commissioned by the World Golf Foundation and supported by The R&A, was presented this week in London at the 7th Congress of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH). The biennial scientific meeting is widely regarded as the world’s flagship physical activity and public health event attended by more than 1,000 delegates from 60 countries.

Recognition that playing golf has significant physical health and wellness benefits and can provide moderate intensity physical activity to persons of all ages, comes just months after the World Health Organization (WHO) published its Global Action Plan for Physical Activity. The Global Action Plan targets one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents (11-17 years) who are insufficiently active, and charts how countries can reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 15% by 2030.

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

New studies are underway to discover if playing golf improves strength and balance, contributing to a key public health goal of fall prevention in healthy aging and into conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Marking the close of the ISPAH Congress, public health practitioners, policymakers and golf industry leaders were hosted at a satellite event in the Palace of Westminster by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf.

Steve Brine, Minister for Public Health and Primary Care, said, "Golf can be a great way to stay active and there’s growing evidence about ways the sport can help those living with long term conditions such as Parkinson’s and dementia."

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, "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."

Annika Sorenstam, Major Champion and a global ambassador for golf and health, said, “As the recent international consensus statement highlighted, golf is great for the health of people of all ages – it benefits those playing the sport and even tournament spectators.

Women & Golf Chairman Kim Wild was lucky enough to interview project ambassador Annika Sorenstam yesterday, in which Annika explained that the initiative will be looking at golf from a different angle. It will ‘touch the masses’ and encourage people of all ages and physical abilities to give the game a go and enjoy the health and social benefits it brings.

“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.

A further Golf and Health Scientific Meeting will be held on Thursday 18 October 2018 at Mytime Active, High Elms Golf Course, Bromley, UK – a club promoting healthy lifestyles. Researchers from Asia, Australia, Europe and the USA will discuss their respective projects and the future direction of research on golf and health.

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