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One "Exercise" You Won't Believe Secretly Extends Your Life, Says Study

FACT CHECKED BY Jessie Van Amburg

Sometimes healthy habits feel like the opposite of fun. (Read: Waking up early for a walk, or opting for a salad instead of a cheeseburger.) But we do them anyway because those small choices can majorly pay off for our health down the road.

Thankfully, putting your best foot forward from a health and wellness perspective doesn't always have to be a drag. There are plenty of ways to break a sweat, get your heart pumping, and have a good time all at once. For instance, Michigan State University suggests activities such as swimming, dancing, and hiking as great full-body workouts that barely feel like workouts at all. "At some point in life, it seems as if we transition from children having fun with exercise to adults who despise exercise and look at it like a chore. Since children model what they see, maybe adults can take some notes from children and remember how to make exercise fun," writes MSU's Kea Norrell-Aitch.

If you're still looking for the right sport or activity to incorporate into your daily fitness habits, consider a comprehensive review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. After analyzing 342 prior relevant studies, a collection of 25 public health experts concluded that far too many people are missing out on the health benefits of a particular sport. It's not one that typically comes to mind when you think about health-promoting workouts, either.

Curious? Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of golf. (Yes, you read that right.) For more enjoyable fitness ideas, check out the Leisure Activities That Are Secretly Amazing Calorie Burners, Says Study.

The surprising health benefits of golf

Smiling man man in cap and sunglasses playing golf health benefits of golf

We all want to find the fountain of youth, but perhaps we should be looking for the putting green of youth. Researchers concluded in their analysis and review of golf's health benefits that the sport is good for the mind, body, and even lifespan. A regular golfing habit is associated with improved longevity, a lower risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke, and good mental health. Golf is also linked to elevated strength and balance among older individuals. And for more expert fitness advice, don't miss Over 60? Here Are 5 of the Best Exercises You Can Possibly Do.

Get outside, safely

woman happy mini golfing

Even better, golf carries a much lower risk of injury than other sports like basketball or baseball. Study authors also note that golf is a game that necessitates getting outside and spending some time around nature and greenery. The connection between nature and improved wellness is supported by a number of research projects. Take this 2019 study published in Scientific Reports, which concluded spending just 120 minutes per week in nature is associated with both strong physical health and overall wellbeing.

It can be a great socialization opportunity


Golf is a game that can provide a nice dose of moderate-intensity aerobic activity within either a group or solo setting. Taking in 18 holes with a group of friends or fellow golfers is a great way to get some social exercise, and sweating socially has been shown to hold extra wellness and longevity benefits. One 2018 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports that group fitness activities promote a longer lifespan than something like an evening spent at the gym alone. For more ways to promote a longer life, check out the Simple Habits That Slow Aging, According to Science.

Maximize golf's benefits


If you're now on the hunt for your old clubs, researchers have a few suggestions to help get the most out of golf. To start, avoid caddies and golf carts. Instead, carry your clubs yourself as you make your way through the course. Think of it as an extra dose of strength training between holes.

Additionally, if golf is going to be your main source of exercise, aim to play for roughly 150 minutes per week. If you're also hitting the gym or engaging in other sports, you don't have to spend as much time spent playing golf per week. (Unless you want to, of course!)

It's also a good idea to perform some simple leg and arm stretches and warm up exercises before getting started to lower the risk of injury. Finally, if you're going golfing on a particularly hot or sunny day, wear sunscreen and reapply it every two hours. Want more healthy fitness ideas? Check out Surprising Exercises That Will Drive Your Weight Loss, Say Experts.

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John
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