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Is Golfing Good for Your Heart Health?

By Skyer Sherman  •   May 15, 2023
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Jun 19, 2023

Photo Credit: by tyler hendy, Pixels.com
Photo Credit: by tyler hendy, Pixels.com

If you know a golfer or if you’re a golfer yourself, you know that it’s an easy sport to love. Golfing fans will make any excuse to go golfing, and it often takes up large parts of their days!

But while it’s a fun and mentally engaging sport to participate in (or even watch), did you know that golfing might have physical benefits, too? And we’re not just talking about normal exercise and the many benefits that come from being physically active.

It seems that golfing actually might benefit your heart health. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether golfing is good for your heart health and exactly how it can benefit your heart by lowering the risk of heart disease, improving cardiovascular health, and maybe even helping you live longer.

Maybe that’s why golfing is such a popular sport. According to the National Golf Foundation, “More than one-third of the U.S. population over the age of 5 played golf (on-course or off-course), followed golf on television or online, read about the game, or listened to a golf-related podcast in 2022. This was up 12% year-over-year.”

Golf is only getting more popular every year, and maybe that’s a good thing for the health of everyone. Read on to learn more about how golfing benefits heart health (and share it with your spouse if you need ways to convince them to let you hit the links more often!). Of course, remember that for heart disease or any health advice, it’s necessary to discuss your situation with a medical doctor before making any changes to your routine.

How golfing can lower your risk of heart disease

As you may know, heart disease is a major killer. In fact, it’s one of the top causes of death. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease (and, on the flip side, increase your risk), but we all know that exercise is one of the main things you can do for your health.

And it seems that for some people, golf might be the answer. Reducing the number of deaths attributed to heart disease by adding in golf might not be a perfect solution, but it certainly can’t hurt. Golfing keeps you physically active and is suitable for all ages.

Playing a round of golf involves quite a bit of walking, and it turns out that’s one of its health secrets. According to WebMD, “A new study says walking 18 holes is just as good — and possibly better — for your cardiovascular health as going for a brisk walk or even walking with trekking poles. All three types of exercise improved blood pressure. But the lower intensity and longer duration of a round of golf led to better cholesterol and blood-sugar results.”

Golf and Health also reports, “Research has shown that golf is associated with improvements in multiple known risk-factors for cardiovascular disease, including body composition, fitness, blood lipid levels, and insulin-glucose levels – all of the things the GP would take into consideration when advising about the risk of developing disease.”

And if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, it’s not too late. The article continues, “Encouragingly, golf has been reported to provide suitable exercise for cardiac rehabilitation patients, meaning that golf can be considered as both a preventative tool and a treatment.”

Golfing keeps you active, and an active person is a healthier person, with obvious impacts on heart health and wellness. Golf’s benefits aren’t limited only to the physical, but they are marked in that regard. Golf can be a great sport for aging adults to begin playing to keep their mind sharp and their body engaged.

Can golfing lower your cholesterol?

Golfing’s impact on heart health doesn’t end there. Golfing also impacts your cholesterol levels.

An article published by Byrncliff points out, “Golf makes you walk a lot for reaching the several holes on the course and walking boosts your circulation. This means that golf helps your heart work better as more blood is pumped up. Another big benefit of golf is that improved circulation helps lower the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.”

The Times puts it this way: “Playing golf is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy in retirement, research has shown. An 18-hole round was found to be better than walking for controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, cutting the risk of heart attacks and strokes.”

Of course, even regular golfers may require prescription heart medications or cholesterol drugs such as Crestor, Livalo, Lipitor, Corlanor (also known as Lancora), and Plavix. Your unique situation should be assessed by a healthcare professional, who can make lifestyle suggestions, encourage diet changes, and prescribe treatments as needed.

Can golfing help you live longer?

One recent study found that golfing at least once a month can lower your risk of premature death if you are an adult.

CNN reports, “To test whether regularly playing golf reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke and/or death among senior adults, the researchers analyzed data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a study of risk factors for heart disease and stroke in adults 65 or older. … In the follow-up period, there was no difference in the rates of heart attack or stroke among regular golf players, so golfing wasn’t found to be a protective factor against stroke and heart attack incident specifically. However, when comparing death rates among golfers and non-golfers, researchers found that golfers had a more than 8% lower death rate (from all causes) than non-golfers.”

The article goes on to conclude, “While playing golf hasn’t been shown to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, golf as a protective factor against early death risk is a suitable activity option for older adults due to its low impact and relaxed nature.”

Think about it: golfing proceeds at a controlled pace and is low-impact, gentle exercise with lots of walking. There’s also a mental component so it keeps your interest even after years of playing, and the competitive nature of it provides a bit of excitement, too.

There’s a social aspect that keeps you connected to other people who share a common interest in golf, and usually, the environment in which you play golf is a natural setting with minimal pollution or the noise and bustle of everyday life in the modern world. The best part is that people can continue playing even into older age, so it’s a long-term sport that you can continue to reap benefits from your whole life.

All of these things are positive, beneficial aspects of golf that can improve your health. Of course, there are other necessary steps to take to help you live longer, like getting ample sleep, eating a nutritious and balanced diet, and nurturing your familial and social relationships.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.