GPs and health professionals are being urged to refer older and inactive patients for golf lessons, after a new report showed that golf builds muscle strength and "improves life satisfaction".
The Golf on Referral report studied two research pilots that saw selected patients referred for a six-week behaviour change and golf lesson programme, with their mental and physical wellbeing tracked over the course of the project.
The programme targeted inactive people at risk of chronic conditions and introduced them to golf while incorporating group support.
Researchers found that, following the six-week programme, participants reported significant increases in their grip strength – a strong indicator of vitality in older people – suggesting improvements in muscle strength and therefore reduced risk of falls or disability.
Remarkably, participants trebled their amount of vigorous exercise per week, saw reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and – perhaps less remarkably – improved their golfing skills "significantly".
The report, conducted by England Golf, ukactive and Mytime Active, also showed that participants experienced increased life satisfaction levels.
“We’re thrilled to see this scheme developing from our earlier research into the impact of playing golf on health and wellbeing," said Abbie Lench, England Golf head of club support.
“It’s been exciting to see the results of the pilot schemes and to gain even more evidence that golf is good for health. We hope that golf on referral can be made more widely available in 2019.”
Source: Leisure Opportunities