London, Sep 24 : Want a long life? Playing golf regularly can boost longevity as well as reduce the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, a panel of international experts has claimed, while stressing on the need to make the sport more inclusive.
The panel, led by the University of Edinburgh, showed that playing golf, which is good for both the mind and body, can also boost strength and balance in older adults.
The sport is also associated with good mental health and improving the overall health of those with disabilities.
It could be because golf is sociable and gets people outdoors to connect with nature.
It can also provide moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, and its health benefits are greatest for players (and spectators) who walk round the course rather than opt for a golf cart, researchers including Andrew D Murray, from Edinburgh's Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, explained.
While the risk of injury while playing golf is moderate, compared with other sports, golfers may be more at risk of skin cancer, he noted.
The researchers suggested that golfers should aim to play for 150 minutes per week.
Players should do warm-up or strengthening exercises to cut the risk of injury and use sun-cream and wear collared shirts or blouses to minimise the risk of skin cancer, Murray recommended.
In the study appearing in British Journal of Sports Medicine, the panel drew on a systematic review of the available published evidence (342 eligible studies) and discussions among an international working group of 25 experts in public health and health policy, and industry leaders.
While around 60 million people play golf at least twice a year, the sport is often perceived as expensive, male dominated, difficult to learn, and not a game for the young or those on the lower rungs of the social ladder.
The sport needs to be more inclusive and welcoming of people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds, the researchers said.