Optimizing the Benefits versus Risks of Golf Participation by Older People


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Abstract

Currently a strong emphasis is being placed in North American public health messages on the value of an active lifestyle for all age segments, including older persons. However, seniors do not usually take up physical activities, even though they often have extensive leisure time. Thus the purpose of this paper is to review current knowledge regarding the key health issues for physical therapists to consider when dealing with an older person who wishes to participate fully in an active sport. We have chosen the example of golf because of its popularity among seniors, as well as its usefulness in illustrating both the overall benefits and risks of participation. Although playing golf provides a moderate intensity exercise stimulus for seniors, musculoskeletal injuries can also result from unsafe participation, as can the aggravation of pre-existing musculoskeletal problems. Strategies for targeted management of the senior golfer's typical concerns are summarized into 4 categories consisting of: injury rehabilitation coordinated by therapists, warm up routines; club-fitting/coaching on proper technique, and preseason conditioning programs. Educational programs for older people regarding the benefits of physical activity should also include information about injury prevention strategies that enhance long-term participation.

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