Get Inspired: Is watching golf good for your health?

Spectators at the Aberdeen Asset Management- European Tour- Scottish Open at Castle Stuart

Being a sports fan can be an unhealthy pastime - sitting for long periods, eating junk food and raised blood-pressure. Unless, that is, your sport of choice is golf.

Golf spectators may get the same health benefits as the players, in terms of longevity, physical and mental health, according to Dr Andrew Murray, a sports medicine doctor at Edinburgh University.

He is leading a five-year project to assess the health benefits of golf for players and spectators, and will be carrying out research during the Paul Lawrie Matchplay at Archerfield Links in East Lothian from 4-7 August.

"With golf, people tend to wander the course following their favourite players and potentially doing useful physical activity," he said.

"When I was at the Open this year, there was an army of spectators walking the five miles around the course with the likes of Henrik Stenson.

"I noted my wife, who is 35 weeks pregnant, had racked up 12,000-odd steps, so we are looking to assess whether this is the exception, or perhaps the norm.

"There are absolutely top class golf and sports events in Scotland each year, and I guess many people don't appreciate that by watching in person and getting these steps in, your health can benefit as well as getting to watch the big names."

'Unique' sport for spectators

Golfing bodies are starting to promote the health benefits of being a spectator.

During the Ryder Cup an Active Scotland initiative, Walk the Course, encouraged spectators to walk to all areas of the venue by offering prizes for those who checked in at points around the course.

By the end of the event, Ryder Cup fans collectively walked more than four times round the world, according to organisers.

At the Paul Lawrie Matchplay, spectators are being encouraged to compare their steps with the players - who are likely to take 10,000 to 12,000 steps.

Paul Lawrie said: "We know that regular exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your health.

"We think that golf may be unique, in that spectators can walk the course, see the action and get some exercise which we know helps people live longer and happier.

"We're urging spectators to come to the Paul Lawrie Matchplay, watch some of the best in Europe, and potentially benefit their health."

Mr Murray said the project, which is being supported by the World Golf Foundation, would also assess injuries and illnesses that afflict golfers and how to reduce their risk.

Are you a sports spectator who has found a way to get health benefits from being a fan, or have you been to an event which encouraged spectators to be more active?

Perhaps you throw yourself into the Mexican Waves and dance moves orchestrated by event comperes? Maybe you walk to get the benefit of two or three vantage points during long distance running, swimming or cycling events? Or do you leave you car at home and walk to the home games of your local team?

Tell us about it by emailing with 'Fit fan' in the subject heading.

If you fancy trying golf, have a look at our activity page on the sport.