Yesterday (17 October) the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf hosted an event in the Palace of Westminster in conjunction with The R&A, Golf and Health Project and International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), to celebrate a global consensus on golf as health enhancing physical activity.
The event saw Members of Parliament and Peers come together with public health practitioners, policymakers and golf industry leaders, as part of a satellite event to the 7th ISPAH Conference, a biennial scientific meeting widely regarded as the world’s flagship physical activity and public health event.
Recognition that playing golf has significant health and wellness benefits and can provide moderate intensity physical activity to persons of all ages aligns the sport with the World Health Organization’s recently published Global Action Plan for Physical Activity, which targets one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents (11-17 years) who are insufficiently active, and charts how countries can reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 15% through 2030.
A scientific consensus linking golf and health, commissioned by the World Golf Foundation and supported by The R&A, was recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, with findings revealing that playing golf is associated with a range of physical and mental health benefits. New studies are also underway to investigate improved quality-of-life through golf and on the sport’s impact on people with a range of diseases including dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf Co-Chair and Member of Parliament for North Warwickshire, Craig Tracey MP, said: “golf has taken the lead in evidencing the significant physical and mental health benefits that it provides, and the World Golf Foundation, The R&A and Golf and Health Project are to be commended for their efforts.
“We need to do more to reduce the levels of physical inactivity that are evident in society, and it is fantastic that golf is using its global presence to make a difference.”
Member of Parliament for North East Fife and All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf Co-Chair, Stephen Gethins MP, said: “it is clear that golf delivers health benefits for people of all ages as health-enhancing physical activity and a preventer of a range of non-communicable diseases.
“I welcome the clear actions for policymakers, the golf industry and golfers themselves which have emerged from the consensus document, and look forward to working closely with stakeholders from across the sport and the health and physical activity sector to optimise health benefits of playing golf, and help improve health and wellbeing through sport.”
Steve Brine, Minister for Public Health and Primary Care, said: “Physical activity of any type comes with a range of physical, social and mental benefits. For some, golf can be a great way to stay active and there’s growing evidence about ways the sport can help those living with long term conditions such as Parkinson’s and dementia.
“And for those who haven’t discovered their favourite sport yet it’s never too late to get inspired, connect with people and improve your wellbeing.”
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “Golf is working hard to encourage more people into the sport who will realise its many health benefits. With 60 million golfers spanning six continents, golf has found common purpose in working with public health practitioners and policymakers to optimise the health benefits of playing the sport.
“We recognise the importance of the WHO Global Action Plan for Physical Activity and we will work with our affiliates and partners around the world to help improve health and well-being through golf”.
Professor Fiona Bull, WHO Programme Manager, Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, said: “NCD is responsible for nearly three quarters of all premature deaths globally, including 15 million deaths per year in people aged 30 to 70 years.
“The new WHO global action plan and the implementation toolkit ‘ACTIVE’ aims to help all countries improve the environments and the opportunities for all people to be more active. Golf is a popular sport for men and women and it is great to see golf’s global leadership recognising health priorities and identifying ways golf can be more accessible to more people. I took up golf in my 30’s but thought it was a very technical, expensive and elitist sport.
“Thankfully a 6 week ‘come and try course’ showed me how easy it was to enjoy golf as a beginner and how active playing 9 holes can be! I am looking forward to seeing how golf can attract many more girls and women to enjoy the sport and be more active and healthy”.
Annika Sorenstam, Major Champion and a global ambassador for golf and health, said: “As the recent international consensus statement highlighted, golf is great for the health of people of all ages – it benefits those playing the sport and even tournament spectators.
“Given the health benefits, we must work together to make golf more accessible if we are to achieve our sport’s full potential.”