Golf fans may be among the
fittest of all sporting spectators, a new study suggests.
Most people who attend golf
events exceed recommended daily step counts, researchers found.
A survey of spectators at last
year’s Paul Lawrie Match Play event at Archerfield Links, East Lothian, found
that they averaged about 11,500 steps per day.
Male spectators took about 1800
more steps each day than women, according to pedometer data, the study found.
Of those surveyed, 60 per cent
said they would like to be more physically active.
The study, published ahead of this
week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, is the first to use step-count
data to assess golf spectators’ physical activity.
Health and golf bodies may wish
to further promote the benefits of spectating, researchers from the University
of Edinburgh suggest.
Their findings could encourage
a wider audience to enjoy the health benefits of golf spectating, researchers
Researchers and policy-makers
agree that regular physical activity can improve mental health, physical health
and life expectancy for people of all ages and backgrounds.
More than 10 million people
spectate at golf tournaments each year, with the opportunity to improve their
health while watching their sporting heroes.
The survey also found that
spectators rate exercise and physical activity as important reasons for attending
Fans also say attending events
allows them to enjoy being in the fresh air, spending time with friends and
family and watching star players.
Golf playing and spectating is
particularly popular in middle aged and older adults in North America, Europe
and Asia. This demographic typically has lower levels of physical activity
compared with younger adults and children.
Anecdotal evidence found that
spectators at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles collectively walked a distance
equal to four times around the world. Fans at China’s Shenzhen International in
2016 walked the equivalent length of the Great Wall seven times.
The health benefits for
spectators at tournaments may vary depending on weather conditions, culture,
types of tournament and golf course terrain.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and BMJ Open Sports and Exercise Medicine is
part of the Golf & Health Project, which is led by the World Golf
Foundation. The initiative aims to increase the understanding of golf in health
Researcher Dr Andrew Murray,
from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at the University of
Edinburgh, urges those who promote the sport to emphasise the physical benefits
of golf spectating. He said: “Walking is one of the best things you can do for
your health, adding years to life, and increasing health and happiness. These pilot findings show that golf
spectators can gain physical activity which could benefit their health- while
watching top quality sport at close quarters.”
Paul Dunstan, Championship
Director for the Paul Lawrie Match Play event and Ryder Cup Operations Director
at the European Tour said, “It is great to hear that the work we are doing to
promote active spectating at events like the Ryder Cup, the Shenzhen
International and the Paul Lawrie Match Play is being backed up by this
All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf
chairperson and founding member, and Member of Parliament for North East Fife,
Stephen Gethins MP, said:
“The Golf and Health project has shown overall
health and well-being benefits for those that play golf - but as MP
for North East Fife which hosts the Women’s British Open at Kingbarns and the
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, as well as regularly hosting the British
Open, both in St Andrews, it is important to hear that spectators not only
see some of the best sporting theatre on earth, but can potentially gain health
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