For older people, playing golf may be even better than Nordic walking

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In a study from the University of Eastern Finland, scientists found older adults may gain more health benefits from playing golf than participating in regular or Nordic walking.

The health advantages of aerobic exercise in helping to prevent heart diseases are well documented as part of efforts to stave off high blood pressure and diabetes.

However, most studies have tended to focus on younger people participating in acute bouts of exercise lasting 30 to 60 minutes at moderate to high intensity.

Golf, walking and Nordic walking—an enhanced walking technique in which people use poles to work their upper body as well as their legs—are popular age-appropriate forms of outdoor aerobic exercise that are safe and easily accessible for many older people.

In the study, the team compared the benefits of 3 different types of aerobic exercises on the heart and metabolic health.

They tested 25 healthy older golfers (aged 65 and above), comparing the effects of three acute aerobic exercises—an 18-hole round of golf, 6km of Nordic walking, and a 6km walk—on their blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol profile in a real-life environment.

The team showed that all three types of aerobic exercise improved heart health in older adults despite differences in duration and intensity—lowering their systolic blood pressure while walking and Nordic walking also led to a decrease in diastolic blood pressure.

However, despite the lower exercise intensity of golf compared with Nordic walking and walking, it was the longer duration and higher total energy expenditure involved in playing golf that seemed to benefit blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

The researchers suggest that despite the lower exercise intensity of golf, the longer duration and higher energy expenditure appeared to have a more positive effect on lipid profile and glucose metabolism compared with Nordic walking and walking.

These age-appropriate aerobic exercises can be recommended to healthy older adults as a form of health-enhancing physical activity to prevent heart disease.

They can also be used as a treatment to improve heart and metabolic health among those who already have a heart disease.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about vitamin K deficiency linked to hip fractures in old people, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and Jarlsberg cheese could help prevent bone thinning disease.

The study was conducted by Julia Kettinen et al and published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine.

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