In addition to the strong physical and mental aspects brought into play, the benefits of golf include reducing our risk of heart disease and dementia
Over the last half of the century, growing awareness that maintaining a healthy body and mind has had a significant positive impact for many. We know more today about what’s good for us and what’s bad for us than ever before.
However, while scientists tell us that there are no guaranteed ways of avoiding heart disease—or the onset of Alzheimer’s—there are steps we can take to reduce our risk of developing both of these conditions.
Recognizing the bad
With no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, what measures should we take to reduce our risk? First, we must look at the factors that increase our risk of heart disease, as the same factors can also increase our risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Important factors that may be involved include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, excess weight, diabetes as well as the following:
- A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Lack of exercise
- Poorly-controlled Type 2 diabetes
- Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
Following the good
We should follow the key positive aspects of a healthy lifestyle—this is where exercise, and golf, come in. The health benefits of golf are plentiful, in addition to promoting blood flow, getting muscles moving and providing the body with a full workout, the great game has also been proven to keep the mind young.
Scientists’ advice for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is to take the same measures that everyone should take to help avoid heart disease—through regular physical activity whilst maintaining a balanced diet in the Mediterranean tradition.
The health benefits of golf
From a good health perspective, playing golf also has much to recommend it, in terms of both mental and physical activity. For example, studies have found an association between lifelong involvement in mentally and socially stimulating activities and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Also low education levels—less than a high school education—appear to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2009, the Wall Street Journal investigated the benefits of playing golf for those already suffering from Alzheimer’s, informing us that golf is such an enjoyable game to do many that even when significant memory is lost in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, the ability to remember playing golf is not.
Dr. Bert Hayslip, a researcher from the University of North Texas, noted that there is something about the game of golf that “imprints itself on people’s minds,” going on to reveal that some of the individuals studied, who could no longer remember what day it was or where they lived, were able to keep score, hold a golf club and make a 15-foot putt.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
With research ongoing into the causes and prevention of Alzheimer’s, current advice is to keep active, keep playing golf and maintain a healthy lifestyle—physically, mentally and socially. This will make our lives more enjoyable and may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
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