Doctors say golf is GOOD for you – and it might be even better than Nordic walking!

  • Researchers studied blood pressure, blood glucose and lipids levels of over 65s
  • Scientists compared effects of golf, Nordic walking and walking on heart health
  • Golf provided the most benefits for blood fats and the metabolism of glucose 

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Retirees were today given the perfect excuse to spend more time on the course. 

For researchers claim playing golf can be even better for your health than Nordic walking. 

Over-65s involved in a study reaped the biggest benefits for their heart when they took to the green — compared to when they attempted Nordic walking or a normal stroll. 

All three exercises lowered their blood pressure but tests showed golf had the best effect on blood sugar and fat levels.

Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland analysed data for 16 men and nine women who were golfers, healthy and aged 65 and over.

Playing golf is on par with Nordic walking in helping to improve heart health, a study suggests Playing golf is on par with Nordic walking in helping to improve heart health, a study suggests

Playing golf is on par with Nordic walking in helping to improve heart health, a study suggests

They compared three outdoor aerobic exercises popular with older people – an 18-hole round of golf, 6km (3.7 miles) of Nordic walking, and a 6km (3.7 miles) regular walk.

Loved by celebrities including Clare Balding, Nordic walking sees people use poles to work their upper body as well as their legs and core.

Researchers then measured the effects of each activity on the participants’ blood pressure, blood glucose and blood lipids.

This was done by taking blood samples, as well as finger-prick tests and measuring their blood pressure with cuffs. 

Participants also wore fitness measuring devices to measure distance, duration and pace and an ECG sensor with a chest strap to measure their heart rate.

The results, published in the journal BMJ Open Sport Exercise, revealed all three types of aerobic exercise improved their cardiovascular health, including lowering their blood pressure.

Yet it was golf — despite its ‘lower intensity’ — which gave the biggest benefits, the researchers said.

The group saw the biggest drop in blood fats and the best metabolism of glucose, which keeps blood sugar levels stable.

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland compared three outdoor aerobic exercises popular with older people ¿ an 18-hole round of golf, 6km (3.7 miles) of Nordic walking, and a 6km (3.7 miles) regular walk. They then measured the effects of each activity on the participants' blood pressure, blood glucose and blood lipids Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland compared three outdoor aerobic exercises popular with older people ¿ an 18-hole round of golf, 6km (3.7 miles) of Nordic walking, and a 6km (3.7 miles) regular walk. They then measured the effects of each activity on the participants' blood pressure, blood glucose and blood lipids

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland compared three outdoor aerobic exercises popular with older people – an 18-hole round of golf, 6km (3.7 miles) of Nordic walking, and a 6km (3.7 miles) regular walk. They then measured the effects of each activity on the participants’ blood pressure, blood glucose and blood lipids

The researchers wrote: ‘These age-appropriate aerobic exercises can be recommended to healthy older adults as a form of health-enhancing physical activity to prevent cardiovascular diseases.’

They added that golf can also be used ‘to improve cardiometabolic health among those who already have a cardiovascular disease’.

It is estimated that around 14.4million people in the UK have high blood pressure, or one in three adults. 

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects 45 per cent of Americans, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sindy Jodar, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Any amount of physical activity, no matter how long or short, is good for heart and circulatory health.

‘The current guidelines recommend aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week, and this can be split into short sessions that suit your lifestyle.’

She added: ‘Taking up exercise in later life – even if you’ve never done much before – can still bring health benefits.

‘Check with your doctor first about what exercise is right for you if you have a heart or circulatory condition.’

What does the NHS recommend for over 65s?

Adults aged 65 or older who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility should try to be active daily, the NHS says.

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Or 

  • A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week (for example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity) and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

A general rule of thumb is that one minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity.

If this amount of exercise appears unachievable to start with, aiming for 10 minutes moderate exercise a day, such as brisk walking, is a good start.

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