The University of Edinburgh in conjunction with the Golf & Health Project released new research about the health benefits of golf spectating, showing those who attend golf events could potentially gain benefits similar to those playing in them...

The study is the first to assess spectator physical activity while watching golf, showing that of the fans surveyed, 82.9% met the recommended daily step-count levels by achieving on average 11,589 steps.

The study suggests that golf spectating can provide health-enhancing physical activity; whilst also allowing spectators to spend time in green space, socialize with friends and family, and watch their sporting heroes compete in real life.

Those surveyed rated obtaining exercise as an important reason for attending golf events, equal to seeing star players, being part of the ‘atmosphere’ around an event, and getting fresh air. 60% also said they would like to be more physically active after the tournament.

These reasons for attending events could have benefits for event promoters in terms of engagement with spectators, local communities and funding organizations, along with wider public health implications in encouraging people to be more active more often.

The studies, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine are part of the Golf & Health Project, which is supported by the World Golf Foundation.

Researcher Dr. Andrew Murray from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh urges golf executives to emphasize the physical benefits of golf spectating:

“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 golf spectators can experience physical activity to benefit their health while watching a top-quality sport at close quarters. This could have huge implications on event attendance and encouraging more people to attend a professional event or begin playing the sport.”

Further research could include assessing how best to provide physical activity information to spectators at events, larger and more representative samples allowing for a better estimation of accrued physical activity and potential gender and age differences, along with whether golf events could be used as ‘teachable moments’ to help educate and inform people on the benefits of physical activity in general.

Anecdotal evidence found that over 20,000 spectators had tagged all the checkpoint locations around the 2014 Ryder Cup site at Gleneagles walking 5 miles each, and collectively walking a distance equal to four times around the world. 6,500 spectators completed a health walk of 10km each during China’s Shenzhen International in 2016, collectively walking 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 tournaments, and golf course terrain.

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About Golf & Health

The Golf & Health Project, supported by the World Golf Foundation, is working to assess the health and wellbeing benefits of golf, aiming to help drive an increased interest and participation in golf, and to improve the public image of the sport.

It also aims to show that existing and future benefits that are identified are applicable to individuals of all ages and in all areas of society, not just a specific sub-section of the population. Key benefits include improvements in life expectancy, quality of life, as well as physical and mental health.

The Project will see the health benefits communicated and disseminated to policy makers and members of the public to increase awareness of golf’s positive influence on health and wellbeing.

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About the World Golf Foundation

The World Golf Foundation develops and supports initiatives that positively impact lives through the game of golf and its traditional values. The Foundation, which was founded in 1993 and is supported by major international golf organizations and professional Tours, provides oversight to World Golf Hall of Fame, The First Tee, GOLF 20/20, and other industry initiatives in support of its mission.

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