New study reveals how this ‘5-a-day’ rule can help golfers live longer

Welcome to Play Smart, a game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Director of Game Improvement content Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

A big reason why the game of golf has been booming over the past year is because people are realizing what a great form of exercise it is.

Sure, there are lots of sports that offer great exercise, but they’re not all very fun for everyone. It’s not fun to go for a run if you’ve got a bad hip, for instance, or to join a recreational soccer team when you’re carrying a few extra pounds. And besides, there’s not as much of a social scene, or sense of community, to go along with these sports. It’s one of the biggest things golf has going for it: It’s first and foremost a recreational game, and a form of exercise available to lots of different people.

Wow, sorry, I didn’t expect today’s column to start as a sales pitch for the game of golf. But the point remains: Golf is good for your health.

But as I learned myself in recent months, good health isn’t only about what you do with your body. In order to get the most out of golf’s health benefits, you need to monitor the stuff that’s actually going into your body. It’s why I was drawn to this recently-published study from the American Heart Association looking into the number of fruits and vegetables people should eat. And, turns out, there’s a pretty simple key golfers can follow to live longer, healthier lives.

‘Five-a-day’

The study itself was a huge one. Technically, it was a collection of studies. 26 in all, spanning more than 1.9 million people across 29 countries. Two studies, according to the report, included data collected for more than 100,000 people over a whopping 30 years. Amidst all that, what they found was clear correlation between those who eat more fruit and vegetables, and those who don’t.

The magic number the study keys-in on is five: two servings of fruit per day, and three servings of vegetables. Those who did had better “longevity” and improved health across-the-board, including a 13 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 10 percent lower death rate for cancer than those who just ate four servings of fruit and vegetables overall.

“The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal,” said Anne Thorndike, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “This research provides strong evidence for the lifelong benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and suggests a goal amount to consume daily for ideal health. Fruits and vegetables are naturally packaged sources of nutrients that can be included in most meals and snacks, and they are essential for keeping our hearts and bodies healthy.”

Eating more than the recommended five servings per day didn’t show any additional health benefits — so five-a-day really is the magic rule. As far as what kinds of vegetables, the study recommends “green leafy vegetables” rather than starchy vegetables, like peas, corn and potatoes, which weren’t associated with added health benefits.

So next time you’re at home or on the course, remember: five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. It’s a lot more than I thought I needed, so I’ll be munching on a few more apples in the future. Let’s make sure we have lots more years of golf left ahead of us!

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Game Improvement Content at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.