Golf can be good for you in a variety ways. Many people underestimate the role that golf can play in both your physical and mental health.
In this article I’m going to explore some of the many ways that golf can help you to achieve a better quality of life.
Many people tend to see golf as a lazy sport or not even a sport at all! But golf is actually great for your fitness.
This is one of the many reasons why golf is so popular. Many people start playing golf to help their fitness.
Most people are amazed to learn that you walk an average of 5.4 miles around an 18 hole golf course. This equates to an average of over 11,000 steps! This is based on the findings of a study in 2011.
The average length of all the holes together is just less than 4 miles but that doesn’t include walking between holes. That is also in a straight line but unfortunatley nobody hits the golf ball straight every time!
Additionally, many golf courses are undulating, providing quite a rigorous walk. But one of the great things about golf is that you can walk as little or as much as you like. Older people, or people trying to get fit slowly, can use a golf cart to get around the course. You still get to enjoy a game of golf, but without quite as much physical exertion.
Based on the study carried out in 2011, the average golfer burns around 1,200 calories during 18 holes of golf. This may surprise many people who don’t see golf as an effective form of exercise.
Playing golf is a great form excersive for many differnent types of people. Whether you are old or young, walking around a golf course is one of the best kinds of evercise you can do.
It is low impact for one, especially since you are walking on smooth, soft ground. This means it is very unlikely that you would cause long-term harm to your body from playing golf.
As well as keeping fit, golf is also a great way for people to get fit. If you are someone that is looking to improve their fitness gradually, golf is an excellent option. If the full course is too difficult to start with (18 holes), you can always play half the course (9 holes) initially.
In fact, golf fits well within the recommendation on exercise from the American College Of Sports Medicine.
The golf swing itself can also be good for the body. Being a full body motion, it helps to keep all the joints loose and helps to build up flexibility and mobility.
When you first start playing golf you may find you ache in muscles you didn’t know existed! Over time, you will develop strength and flexibility in these areas. This is particularly true for the hips, shoulders, back, and legs.
Whilst golf may not provide a cardiovascular workout, it is certainly good for fitness and it is very easy on your body.
According to the American College Of Sports Medicine, golf is classed as highly active, when based purely on the step count. This doesn’t take into account the swinging of the golf club, which is a full body motion.
What better way to exercise than playing a game out in the fresh air with your friends? The game of golf really is great!
Any physical exercise is generally considered good for the brain. Walking briskly aroud a golf course would typically be classed as a gentle form of aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is excellent for the brain because it improves the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain. In many tests, aerobic exercise has been found to improve cognative brain functions such as thinking and reasoning.
Additionally, the brain stimulations as a result of strategy and tactics can help to improve memory and cognition. Believe it or not, many golfers can remember every single shot from the game, including their playing partner’s. This could be as many as 400 shots to remember!
The brain also gets tested when trying to visualise a golf shot and determine strategy. The number of options available to a player at any one time is almost impossible to quantify.
There are 14 clubs in the bag but there are at least 12 possible shots with each club. There are then hundreds of possible targets a player could choose. Aiming at the flag is rarely the best option. The player then has to consider the lay of the land, the hazards, and the wind amongst other factors.
Over time, the brain becomes better at making judgements and many of these decisions become subconcious. But that doesn’t mean that making these decisions doesn’t provide a great workout for the brain.
Most golfers will tell you that playing a round of golf helps to keep the brain sharp.
Golf can help people that are suffering with anxiety in many ways including:
The gentle aerobic exercise helps people to feel better by releasing endorphines – feel good chemicals. Also, calming feelings can be experienced simply by being out in the fresh air and amongst nature. Studies have found that “green exercise” (exercise amongst nature) can help to reduce job stress, which is one of the leading causes of anxiety.
Additionally, social interactions on the golf course can help individuals with anxiety. Over the course of a 4 hour round, golfers get plenty of opportunity to talk to each other between shots (and often in the clubhouse afterwards).
Socialisation increases a hormone that decreases the levels of anxiety we experience. And we spend more time focussing our thoughts outwards and sharing feelings. This can help to improve the sense of meaning in our lives, reducing feelings of stress. – Source
Playing golf, like most sports, can help to improve our confidence and self esteem. By recognising improvement and congratulating ourselves when we play well, we can help to build a better feeling of self worth. It also helps when your playing partners let you know you’ve hit a good shot. It’s a great feeling!
Above all else, playing golf can help you to forget your feelings of anxiety. Being away from all distractions and concentrating on your golf game for 4 hours can help you to get away from negative thoughts. It really is amazing how the golf course feels like a different dimension at times.
Golf is good for old people in a number of key ways. As well being a great form of physical exercise, it also offers many other benefits including:
All these factors combined makes golf an excellent game for old people. They can get low impact exercise along with an excellent mental workout and many social interactions. This can help them to stay sharp both physically and mentally.
Additionally, golf may have positive implications for those suffering from mental decline and dementia.
“Golf is a moderately intense physical activity and is likely to prevent the onset of cognitive decline and, in those with dementia, can reduce the decline of both mental and physical activity.” [Lutenschlager et al] – Source
In a time where a sedentary lifestyle is becomming more common at all ages, golf becomes a more attractive proposition for old people. Given how good golf is for old people both physically and mentally, it can be a great way for them to become more active. This could help to massively improve their overall quality of life.
Considering that golf can help with physical fitness, brain cognition, and mental health, it’s safe to say that playing golf is healthy.
Simply being outside, getting exercise amongst nature is good for you. Throw in the social element with the mental challenege, and it’s easy to see why playing golf is considered healthy.
We are increasingly living sedentary lifestyles and becoming more dependant on technology for entertainment. There are a lot of people that would benefit from some gentle exercise.
For people looking to get fit and keep fit, golf is an excellent game. Walking and swinging a golf club offers a low impact form of exercise that is suitable for almost all fitness levels and ages.
Golf is great for improving the health of old people. It gets them out of the house and onto the golf course where they can get physical and mental exercise whilst having fun with friends.
Young people could also benefit from playing golf. Encouraging them to play golf could be a great way to get them away from video games for a while. Whilst they make speak to friends online, it’s still not the same as meeting people in person.
And many young people aren’t getting the amount of exercise they should be. Getting young people into the habit of regular exercise is just one of the many benefits offered by golf.
With so many of us not getting the exercise we need and many of us suffering from anxiety, I think golf has a lot to offer. What’s more, we can play golf our entire lives, reaping it’s rewards well into old age.
I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m a 3 handicaper that's obsessed with golf. You can often find me hitting balls on a driving range somewhere!
I'm on a journey to learn as much as possible about the great game. I've made Clean Strike Golf to share everything I discover along the way.