Golf has beneficial health effects and may increase life expectancy, according to a Swedish study.
Researchers at the medical university Karolinska Institutet analysed data about 300,000 Swedish golfers, and found that the death rate was 40 per cent lower among them as compared to the rest of the population.
The researchers noted that that equated an increased life expectancy of five years.
Professor Anders Ahlbom, who has led the study with Bahman Farahmand, said that there were several aspects of the game that might keep a golfer in good health.
"A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is known to be good for the health," he said.
"People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help," he added.
The researcher conceded that factors other than the actual playing-like a generally healthy lifestyle-were also behind the lower death rate.
He, however, insisted that it just might be possible that playing the game in itself has a significant impact on health.
Professor Ahlbom pointed out that the golfers were found to have a lower death rate irrespective of sex, age, and social group.
He further revealed that the effect was greater for golfers from blue-collar professions than for those from white-collar professions.
Golfers with the lowest handicap (the best golfers) had the lowest rates, he added.
"Maintaining a low handicap involves playing a lot, so this supports the idea that it is largely the game itself that is good for the health," Professor Ahlbom said.
The study has been published in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.