Playing golf can extend your life — if you walk.
A study of 140,000 people by the American Cancer Society found that those who walked six hours a week had a significantly lower risk of mortality than their sedentary fellows. The study also found that:
all levels of walking, even levels below the recommended guidelines (150 minutes a week), were associated with lower mortality risk. Participants who walked for less than 2 hours per week had a lower death risk than those who got no activity at all. And those who got in 1 to 2 times the recommended level of physical activity just through walking had a 20% lower mortality risk.
Thus, if you walk two or more rounds of golf a week, you are likely meeting the recommended minimum. Thus, playing golf can extend your life.
Getting up and moving is of particular importance to older Americans. I think that carrying a bag is unrealistic for most of us in the 50+ set, but push or pull carts are a terrific compromise. You get all of the walking with none of the back strain. I regularly play golf with guys at my home course who are in their 70s who use push carts. I think it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are able to walk a round of golf because they walk rounds of golf.
I certainly meet that minimum until the snow flies here in Michigan. Even on my “off” days, I usually get in three miles doing a lap around the neighborhood. When the weather turns bad, it becomes a little more difficult. Fortunately, my gym has an elevated walking track. It is a little more annoying to need to drive to the gym to get a walk in, but it keeps me in shape for golf.
All that practice walking really paid off on my recent trip to Bandon Dunes. There, we walked 45 miles over the course of five days and eight rounds.