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Fore! Playing golf could help seniors live longer, study says

It's a hole-in-one study for older adults.

Playing golf once a month can lower the risk of death among older adults, according to preliminary research.

The American Heart Association says the sport is played by about 24 million people. A few rounds can offer lots of health benefits like reducing stress and regular exercise, the study conducted by Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute claims. 

Out of the 5,900 participants in the study, with an average age of 72, some 384 people regularly played.

During the follow-up, researchers found that there was no difference in the rates of heart attacks or strokes between regular golfers and non-golfers. However, when the death rate was compared, golfers had a 9% lower death rate.

"Regular exercise, exposure to a less polluted environment and social interactions provided by golf are all positive for health," said Adnan Qureshi, M.D., lead author and executive director of the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institutes and professor of neurology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. "Another positive is that older adults can continue to play golf, unlike other more strenuous sports such as football, boxing and tennis. Additional positive aspects are stress relief and relaxation, which golf appears better suited for than other sports."

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While the findings, which will be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020 in mid-February, were unable to determine if golfing had a direct impact on lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke, researchers are currently performing additional analyses to identify what other health conditions may benefit from regularly playing golf.

The research also didn't mention if the golfers walked or rode in golf carts, or if gender or race had any effect on the findings.