Golf is a game that can be enjoyed by all generations and it’s also a very healthy way of getting the exercise you need whilst satisfying our inner urge for competition and the application of our skills. When it comes to the health benefits of playing golf, the list could be a long one, but we’ll highlight just a few, to remind you why you can do yourself and your body a lot of good by being out on the course swinging, chipping and putting away to your heart’s content.
1. Longer life
People who play golf live longer lives, and that’s a fact! Researchers at Edinburgh University did a review of 5,000 studies other studies and after collating the evidence, concluded that life expectancy can be extended, chronic diseases can be better managed and there’s a markedly positive impact on mental health. In fact, the health benefits of playing golf improve with age. Health professionals estimate that regular golfing can help to prevent (or at least lessen the risk of) a whole range of major chronic conditions.
2. A healthy heartbeat
We thrive when our hearts work well at pumping blood around our bodies. Golf fitness is gained from walking the fairways and greens, carrying your bag of clubs and playing all your shots (well, hopefully). By doing that on a regular basis, we are reducing the risk of strokes, sudden drops in blood pressure and build-ups of bad cholesterol, all of which can have a dramatic impact on our hearts. All in all, one of the greatest health benefits of golf is having a healthy heart.
3. Benefits for our brains
Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, points out that daily walking stimulates memory circuits: “By keeping active, you make sure your brain has a good, strong blood supply, essential to help it function better now and in the future.” The combination of brisk walking, physical coordination when playing your strokes and the mental calculations around distance and shot types means that by playing golf on a regular basis, you’re helping your brain to stay lean and mean.
4. Weight Loss
The number of steps per day needed for weight loss is 10,000. An 18-hole round goes way beyond this number, especially if you walk rather than using a golf cart. On average, a male golfer uses around 2,500 kCal during an 18-hole round, while female players burn off approximately 1,500 kCal. This is practically the average daily food consumption.
5. Improved sleep
It’s certainly not rocket science to suggest that regular exercise and lots of fresh air are a wonderful combination if you want to ensure a good night’s sleep. In fact, the benefits go deeper than that. Getting that exercise helps you fall asleep faster and you are far more likely to stay in a deep sleep state for longer. Furthermore, a healthy sleep pattern helps your muscles to get rest and, where needed, repair themselves. Ideal if you need an early start the following morning for a nice round of golf!
6. Lower risk of injury
Let’s face it, unless you have a funny turn and start chasing your partner around the fairway and attacking him or her with your driver, golf is a pretty low-impact sport. You’re walking around on soft, gently undulating ground. The periodic incidence of strenuous action is interspersed with long periods of walking, squatting to measure your putts and standing observing your opponents take their shots. That’s why this sport has no age boundaries - mature players find it attractive precisely because they can burn off a few calories knowing that the risk of injury is negligent.
Regular exercise prevents hip injuries fractures and keeps bones strong
the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Golf fitness provides greatly beneficial exercise for those who suffer with osteoporosis. It’s all in bone mechanics. Playing golf helps to place appropriate stress (yes, there is such a thing) on certain bones so that they can maintain their density and strength. In particular, this means hips, vertebrae and wrists, which just happen to be the most common fracture risk sites for people with osteoporosis.
Is golf good for your health? Well, of course it is, and if you’re healthy, you’re happy. The kind of exercise you get from a round of golf will improve your mood (despite that 3-putt at the 4th), and helps in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Neither should we underestimate the importance of the social dimension of playing with others in a pair or foursome.
At present, the number of people joining golf clubs and playing at least a round a week is growing. Moreover, the average age profile is rising in line with general age-demographics. That’s a positive sign that hundreds of thousands of people are realising the health benefits of playing golf.
The pleasure of a few hours walking in the fresh air, the social dimension and the mental challenge of calculating, club, shot-type and distance (along with the countless other conundrums facing the golf aficionado as they go round the course) contribute to the release of endorphins. We all know that these natural mood-enhancing chemicals will only make you happier and more relaxed!