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The Metabolic Demand of Golf in Patients With Heart Disease and in Healthy Adults

Dobrosielski, Devon A. MS; Brubaker, Peter H. PhD; Berry, Michael J. PhD; Ayabe, Makoto MS; Miller, Henry S. MD

Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation: March-April 2002 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 96-104
Cardiac Rehabilitation

PURPOSE To evaluate the metabolic cost of golf, while pulling a cart, in a group of patients with heart disease (HD) and healthy adults with a wide range of functional capacities.

METHODS Twenty male golfers aged 49 to 78 years participated in this study. All participants underwent a graded exercise test (GXT) with expired gas analysis to determine functional capacity. Each patient with HD (n = 10) was matched with a healthy adult of similar age. Each pair completed 9 holes of golf while pulling a cart, during which oxygen consumption was monitored continuously via the Cosmed K4b2 portable unit.

RESULTS The average metabolic equivalent (MET) value (1 MET = 3.5 mL·kg−1· min−1) (mean ± SEM) for 9 holes of golf in this group of men with HD (4.1 ± 0.1 METs) was similar to that previously reported value of 4.3 METs. Whereas the average MET responses were similar between the groups, when expressed relative to peak oxygen consumption, on average, patients with HD worked at a significantly higher percentage of their functional capacity (57 ± 2.7%) compared to the healthy adults (46 ± 2.6%). Some patients with HD exceeded 100% of GXT MET level during golf. In contrast, some healthy adults failed to reach 60% of GXT MET level during golf.

CONCLUSIONS Based on these data, walking the golf course while pulling a cart appears to provide an adequate training stimulus for most patients with HD. However, some lower fit patients with HD (< 8 METs) are in danger of exceeding a safe level and should be encouraged to monitor intensity on the golf course and consider using a motorized cart. For most individuals who are more fit (functional capacity ≥ 8 METs), golf does not appear to provide the stimulus generally associated with improvement in functional capacity.

From the Department of Health and Exercise Science and Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.

Address correspondence to: Peter H. Brubaker, PhD, Director and Associate Professor, Wake Forest Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, Departments of Medicine and Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Box 7628 Reynolda Station, Winston-Salem, NC 27109 (e-mail:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.