The Benefits of Playing Golf
In an era where obesity has become a global epidemic, we take a look at whether or not golf is a good way of improving one’s personal health. There have been numerous studies completed by healthcare professionals over the years that seem to point out that as a form of exercise golf is generally seen as beneficial to one’s personal health. So basically, if you don’t play golf at the weekends your going against the doctor’s orders!
It’s pretty obvious that walking the 5 or 6 miles that are involved when playing a round of golf can only be good for lowering one’s blood pressure and cholesterol. However, are there other benefits? For example, can you lose weight by playing golf? Are there any mental benefits of golf? Can you embark on a golf fitness program?
The top benefits of golf:
- Burns Calories – Playing a round of golf can burn over a thousand calories and whilst that maybe not enough to cause weight loss, it’s definitely better than sitting at home! So next time you’re out on the greens, ditch the golf cart and walk to get those calories burned.
- Stimulates the heart – The walking across the greens and the effort involved in your golf swing, exercise your heart just like any other form of exercise. This is beneficial as a regular increase in heart rate will lower the risk of disease in the future and can help you live longer. As golf provides a moderate-intensity workout, it is plausible to expect that golf can have benefits in the prevention of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, strokes and some forms of cancer.
- Improves Mental Agility – As your heart rate increases so does the flow of blood to the brain. This stimulates and improves nerve cell connections that can help delay several forms of mental illness. In addition to this, the competitive element of the game also helps keep you mentally sharp!
- Improves General Well Being – Just being out in the fresh air amongst nature has been shown in several studies to be beneficial to one’s well being. This combined with playing abroad on a sunny golf holiday means increased exposure to Vitamin D! (although be careful and wear appropriate sunscreen)
- Helps Social Esteem – The social interaction that can occur when playing golf with other people increases self-esteem and confidence. In a recent study, the majority of golfers self-efficacy & self-worth demonstrated a positive change after playing the game of golf.
- Physical Fitness – Golf is a low injury risk sport and provides the athletic challenge that many sportsmen need when they are too old to play traditional sports like Soccer or Rugby. The risk of injury is much lower but you still work out your upper body when you hit the ball and you work out your lower body when you’re walking across the course.
- Helps Sleeps – Many studies have shown that one of the chief causes of poor health is the inability for people to sleep for long enough. The sheer physical activity involved in playing golf helps create a tired mind and body which helps to get a good night’s sleep. There is no better feeling than hitting the hay after playing your heart out on the course!
- Reduce Stress & Anxiety – We suppose this one is dependent on how well you are playing, but in theory, playing a round of golf can help release endorphins. These endorphins are natural mood-enhancing chemicals within our brains. The fact that you are out in an outdoor area probably interacting with friends should put golfers in a good mood even if they are having a shocker!
If golfers needed any better reason for playing golf than the sheer pleasure it can provide, then the obvious health benefits above provide ample evidence that it is beneficial health-wise. Many people play various sports until they become physically unable to do so and golf provides them both the mental and milder physical activity it provides to take them to a healthy old age.
So the next time you are scorned for always being at the club, you can argue that golf and health go hand in hand and you are only looking out for your personal health!
If you would like to learn more about the relationship of golf on physical and mental health, please check out Dr Andrew Murray’s paper.