While the regular stroll or Nordic walking has been proven to be good for the health and fitness of older adults, it turns out golf is a far better option.

A recent study out of the University of Eastern Finland finds that hitting the links is a more powerful and healthy activity for those over 65 than taking regular strolls or Nordic walking. 

Their findings showed that all three aerobic exercises lowered blood pressure and enhanced the cardiovascular profiles of the old adults, but golf in particular showed the best impact on blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

Engaging in aerobics has been recognized to ward off diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia (an abnormal increase of lipids in the blood that causes high cholesterol) in older adults. 

The research team notes that golf, Nordic walking, and casual strolls are widely known forms of outdoor aerobic workouts that can be seen as safe and accessible for older adults.

However, the team was curious to determine whether a single round of these three distinct aerobic forms of workouts had any impact on cardiometabolic markers in terms of intensity, duration, and energy.

To do that, they enrolled 25 healthy older golfers who were 65 years and older for the study. All participants were made to complete the following three different exercises often common with older adults: an 18-hole round of golf, 6 km of Nordic walking, and 6 km of regular walking. 

Nordic walking technically involves walking with poles to work both the upper body and legs.

Researchers collected participants’ blood samples and conducted a blood glucose finger-prick test. Blood pressure measurements were also taken, and they were given a device to wear on their wrists. The device allowed the researchers to gauge the distance covered during the workouts, including duration, pace, steps, and energy burned. Then an ECG sensor with a chest strap was fitted on the participants to measure their heart rates during the exercises. 

The results, which were published in the journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, revealed that these acute sessions of aerobic workouts enhanced the cardiovascular profile of old and healthy individuals. This occurred despite the difference in duration and intensity.

In addition, all three exercises appeared to lower systolic blood pressure, while Nordic walking and walking lowered diastolic pressure.

Yet golf—despite its low exercise impact—showed the best benefit on cholesterol levels and glucose metabolism compared with Nordic walking and walking, according to the researchers. 

Prior studies described the Nordic walk as a more effective moderate-intensity workout, whereas golf was regarded as a low-to-moderate impact workout because of the stops, waiting, and plans of game strategy involved, thereby decreasing one’s heart rate during the game.

Now, this study goes on to prove playing golf to be a more beneficial health-promoting exercise than Nordic walking or walking in terms of energy burned, steps, and distance.

The study authors recommend these forms of aerobic exercises as age-appropriate and beneficial for preventing cardiovascular diseases. More so, they believe those who already have a cardiovascular disease can depend on golf as a form of treatment to boost their cardiometabolic health.


Golf is no doubt an enjoyable low-impact workout that comes off easy on the joints. If you need an ideal activity that won’t break your back yet keep you healthy into your golden years, grab a bag of clubs and hit the green!

Written by

Medically Reviewed by