Before diving into the research, it's important to understand a little about the group that conducted it. The Golf Federation of Sweden has more than 600,000 members. Membership is required for playing almost everywhere in Sweden, which means the list likely contains almost all of Sweden’s golfers.
Sweden also maintains a record of all of the deaths that have occurred in the country for the past several decades.
For the 2009 study, researchers in Sweden pulled information from both databases to study the impact golf may or may not have on mortality.
Not only is golfing good for your life expectancy in general, but the more a person golfs, the greater the increase in their overall health.3
Adding golfers' handicaps to the equation revealed even more interesting findings.
Golfers with the lowest handicaps (indicating a better player who, in theory, golfs more frequently) had greater reductions in their risk of death compared to golfers with higher handicaps, according to the study.
Why Golf Improves Life Expectancy & Longevity:
While golf may offer specific health benefits that increase longevity, the answer is potentially more simple than that: the effect could be explained by the increase in exercise.
A 2017 review of over 300 studies suggested that the moderate physical activity associated with golf could potentially have "the same beneficial effects on longevity, physical health, mental health, and wellness associated with physical activity."
Other possible explanations include:
- Some people with certain illnesses and health conditions cannot play golf, therefore a group of golfers being studied would exclude those populations.
- Golf is an expensive sport, and golfers tend to be more affluent and privileged. Higher socioeconomic status is linked to better health.
- In addition to exercise, being outside has stress-relieving and other health benefits, which golfers get to take advantage of when playing around.
How to Make the Most of Your Golf Game:
The exercise benefits of a round of golf are well documented.6 Here are some tips to make the most of your golf outing:
- Walk instead of riding in a golf cart. Walk the course if you can—you'll burn extra calories and reap the cardiovascular benefits.
- Carry your clubs or use a pull-cart. If you can, carry or cart your own clubs. You’ll build strength and endurance while burning extra calories.
- Improve your game. According to a Swedish study, the more you golf, the more you'll positively affect your longevity. Golfing more will improve your health and your handicap.2
- Beware the clubhouse. Beware of beers, hamburgers, and other clubhouse snacks that will replace the calories you burned on the green.