Golf: a high intensity interval activity for elderly men

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2004 Oct;16(5):375-81. doi: 10.1007/BF03324567.


Background and aims: The aim was to quantify the time spent at different exercise intensities for male golfers, in relation to age, while walking a "normal" 18-hole golf course.

Methods: 19 healthy male golfers (six 27 (5) years old, seven of 50 (7) and six of 75 (4) years) performed a maximal exercise test on a treadmill (maximal oxygen uptake and maximal heart rate were measured). Within one week, they played an "average" 18-hole course starting at 7:00 a.m. During the round, their heart rate was monitored with a Polar Vantage heart rate monitor, which sampled the heart rate every 5 seconds. Body weight was measured before and after the round. Blood glucose was taken at rest before the round and after each 3rd hole. Perceived exertion and perceived pain in muscles and joints were rated using the CR 10 Borg scale just before reaching each green and after a few selected uphill parts of the course.

Results: High intensity of exercise was reached during 6% of the total playing time for the young, 30% for the middle-aged and 70% for the elderly golfers, playing 18 holes (p < 0.05). The golfers' heart rate was below 50% of their individual maximal heart rate, 18% of total time for young golfers, 16% for the middle-aged, and not at all for the elderly. Perceived exertion, breathlessness and leg fatigue were rated in a similar manner for all three groups. Perceived pain in joints and muscles was rated extremely weak except in a few players who had some known joint or muscle problem. The mean blood glucose level fell by 20% for the young (p < 0.05), 10% for the middle-aged, and 30% for the elderly players (p < 0.05) after 18 holes of play. Body weight was reduced 0.7% similarly for all three groups (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Walking an 18-hole golf course corresponds to an exercise intensity which is moderate and high for the elderly, mainly low to moderate for the middle-aged, and low for young male golfers. All golfers, regardless of age, perceived their exertion similarly as weak to moderate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Weight
  • Dyspnea
  • Exercise Test
  • Golf / physiology*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Pain Measurement
  • Perception
  • Walking


  • Blood Glucose