Research commissioned by England Golf and the Professional Golfers’ Association has identified that golfers are 14% more likely to report good health than non-participants, significantly reducing their risk of some of Britain’s biggest diseases, including dementia.
With dementia and Alzheimer’s disease now the leading cause of death in England and Wales and accounting for 11.6% of all deaths, this ground-breaking study from the Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University has established that regular participants reduce their risk of dementia and coronary heart disease by 30%. What’s more, dementia prevention accounts for nearly half (49%) of the recorded health benefits of golf.
At a time when the NHS is becoming increasingly stretched, the industry-leading findings mark the first time the wider impact of any individual sport has been determined and reveal that every £1 spent on golf generates £1.17 worth of social benefits, a total of £1.8 billion. It also identifies the value golf creates to society by improving health and contributing to the reduction of healthcare costs associated with key diseases in the process, which equates to 22% of the total social value, some £403 million.
Within England Golf and the game itself this understanding of the health benefits, particularly in regards to dementia, is becoming increasingly recognised.
ukactive Research Director Dr Steven Mann has carried out extensive research on the potential for golf to help prevent and manage serious health conditions such as dementia by increasing activity levels and says the sport is a particularly useful intervention due to its broader appeal.
“Our data suggests that golf has the ability to attract key demographics that are notoriously difficult to engage in public health programming, such as men aged 45-65,” said Mann.
“We know that being physically active helps reduce risk of dementia by up to 30 per cent and golf is a great way to achieve recommended exercise levels as it is a sport that can be enjoyed by all, as well as bringing the associated mental health benefits of being active.”
Nick Pink, chief executive of England Golf, says: “We are living in a time when there are more people aged over 65 than there are under 15. But, as we live longer, we become increasingly at risk of dementia, which has recently overtaken heart disease to become the biggest cause of death in England and Wales.
“This report and the various research and initiatives being undertaken across the country in regards to dementia and golf highlights that not only is golf an important preventative measure, it also plays a huge part in the lives of those already suffering with the disease. We hope that this important research will encourage more people to take up the sport earlier.
“Ultimately, we hope that a round of golf will become as much a part of people’s weekly routine as stocking up on groceries or enjoying Sunday lunch with the family.”
England Golf actively promotes golf through a range of campaigns directly targeting the consumer, including Get into Golf, Women’s Month in June and the Family Golf in July through partnerships with county unions, associations and county golf partnerships, golf clubs and volunteers.