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Effects of golf training on cognition in older adults: a randomised controlled trial
  1. Hiroyuki Shimada1,
  2. Sangyoon Lee1,
  3. Masahiro Akishita2,
  4. Koichi Kozaki3,
  5. Katsuya Iijima4,
  6. Kumiko Nagai3,
  7. Shinya Ishii2,
  8. Masamichi Tanaka3,
  9. Hitomi Koshiba3,
  10. Tomoki Tanaka2,4,
  11. Kenji Toba5
    1. 1Department of Preventive Gerontology, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Obu, Japan
    2. 2Department of Geriatric Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
    3. 3Department of Geriatric Medicine, Kyorin University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
    4. 4Institute of Gerontology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
    5. 5National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Obu, Japan
    1. Correspondence to Dr Hiroyuki Shimada, Department of Preventive Gerontology, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Obu, Aichi 474-8511, Japan; shimada{at}


    Background Although research indicates that a physically active lifestyle has the potential to prevent cognitive decline and dementia, the optimal type of physical activity/exercise remains unclear. The present study aimed to determine the cognitive benefits of a golf-training programme in community-dwelling older adults.

    Methods We conducted a randomised controlled trial between August 2016 and June 2017 at a general golf course. Participants included 106 Japanese adults aged 65 and older. Participants were randomly assigned to either a 24-week (90–120 min sessions/week) golf-training group or a health education control group. Postintervention changes in Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) and National Centre for Geriatrics and Gerontology-Functional Assessment Tool scores were regarded as primary outcome measures. Secondary outcome measures included changes in physical performance and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) scores.

    Results A total of 100 participants (golf training, n=53; control, n=47) completed the assessments after the 24-week intervention period. The adherence to the golf programme was 96.2% (51/53 participants). Analysis using linear mixed models revealed that the golf training group exhibited significantly greater improvements in immediate logical memory (p=0.033), delayed logical memory (p=0.009) and composite logical memory (p=0.013) scores than the control group. However, no significant changes in MMSE, word memory, Trail Making Test or Symbol Digital Substitution Test scores were observed. In addition, no significant changes in grip strength, walking speed or GDS were observed.

    Conclusions Golf-based exercise interventions may improve logical memory in older adults, but no significant changes in other cognitive tests. Further follow-up investigations are required to determine whether the observed effects are associated with delayed onset of mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.

    Trial registration number UMIN-CTR UMIN000024797; Pre-results.

    • cognition
    • elderly
    • sport
    • randomised trials
    • physical activity

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    • Contributors HS had full access to all data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. HS planned the study, wrote the first draft of the manuscript, and coordinated the review and editing process leading to the final manuscript. SL, MA, KK, KI and KT participated in the design of the study and writing of the manuscript. KN and SI contributed to the editorial process and management of data collection. MT, HK and TT contributed to the editorial process and data collection. KT supervised the study and suggested many of the ideas that have been pursued in this research, and participated in the planning, editorial and review processes that led to the final manuscript.

    • Funding The present study was supported by grants from the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Japan (28–29). No support was received from any other organisation or industry for the present study.

    • Competing interests HS reports receiving institutional grants from the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology during the study period (28–29). Kanto Golf Association and Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association supported the intervention by providing golf instructors and support staff. There are no other disclosures to report.

    • Patient consent Obtained.

    • Ethics approval Ethics Committee of the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology.

    • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

    • Collaborators Sungchul Lee; Seongryu Bae; Soni Jon; Keitaro Makino; Yohei Shinkai.

    • Author note This manuscript has not been published or presented elsewhere in part or in entirety.