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.
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.
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.
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.