Playing 12 holes of golf once a week, every week, would save as many lives per year as those killed by smoking, a team of researchers in the United Kingdom has found.

They were working on a study, published in The Lancet, which estimates that, globally, about a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3 million deaths per year. Each year between five and six million people die from smoking-related diseases around the world.

The 33 researchers added that governments should publicize the dangers of inactivity more and increasingly look at making activity more convenient, affordable and safer.

They recommend that adults should do about 150 minutes of moderate exercise, including playing golf, per week. This would be the equivalent of playing approximately 12 holes.

The study comes just a few days after the Scottish Golf Union called for no more 18-hole golf courses to be built in the country, but instead nine-hole venues or courses with two or three loops of six holes.

The study found that the people from the UK generally had relatively poor rates of inactivity.

Lindsey Davies, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: “We need to do all we can to make it easy for people to look after their health and get active as part of their daily lives.

“Our environment has a significant part to play. For example, people who feel unsafe in their local park will be less likely to use it.”