We all know that regular doses of aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching help maintain our overall fitness levels. But not everyone likes the idea of running, hitting the gym, or joining a pilates class.
If you’re battling a bit of middle-age spread or just wondering what form of exercise will improve your overall health and fitness, you should try playing golf. It’s a low-impact activity that offers a variety of health benefits for people of any age. Here are just a handful of reasons why golf can be good for you.
It’s good for your heart
Walking around a golf course, carrying or pulling your own bag, swinging clubs and a bit of friendly competition increases your blood flow and helps your heart work more efficiently. Exercising this way – mainly the walking part – regularly keeps your heart rate up and ultimately lowers the risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
It stimulates your brain
Regular exercise also ensures that your brain has a good, strong blood supply, which is essential to help it function better. From developing strategies for individual holes to visualising your shot to coordinate your swing, several ways of playing golf improve your brainpower. The golf course can also be a quieter place to learn and practise these skills, without anything to distract you.
It helps with weight loss
Playing 18 holes of golf equates to about seven kilometres of walking. Walking these seven kilometres each time you play – instead of driving a buggy – gives you a great endurance workout and helps you burn off a few calories. The number of calories you burn varies depending on your body weight, the course length, the number of undulations, and whether you carry your clubs or use an electric cart.
It reduces stress and makes you happy
Getting exercise anywhere is good, but getting exercise outdoors is excellent. Golf is an outdoor sport, surrounded by nature and with plenty of fresh air and sunshine, which helps reduce stress. Although there are other ways to release your happy hormones, none compare to a good game of golf – even a good shot. Playing golf in the green landscaped environment, breathing in the fresh air, and socialising with your fellow golfers calms the mind and, for some, creates a ‘happy place.’ This helps with focus and mental relaxation, an essential requirement for the more serious golfer.
It helps you sleep better
The combination of exercise, fresh air, and natural light will all help you to get a better night’s sleep after a round of golf. It may feel like a low-impact activity at the time, but played regularly, golf becomes an effective workout. This frequent exercise can help you fall asleep faster and remain in a deep sleep for longer.
If you really want to exercise
Suppose you start taking golf a little more seriously and want to improve your game. In that case, there are tips, tricks, and exercises galore – for any level of golfer. Although not mentioned in most golf tutorials, health and fitness are central to all points of game improvement. This does not mean that you need to hit the gym. You can try doing some yoga at home, with some golf-specific poses to focus on stretching all the long muscles in your body. If you really want to do some strength-related exercises, try a kettlebell workout.
Professional golf athletes
There was definitely a time when golf was considered more of a pastime than an athletic sport, however this has definitely changed over the past 20 years across both the mens and womens game. A big catalyst for the change was Tiger Woods. Woods’ approach to golf included rigorous training, both cardiovascular and strength training, which propelled him to the world number one status in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Since then, modern day golfers are taking health and fitness much more seriously and many of the world’s leading golfers are also considered to be outstanding athletes. In the men’s game, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Bryson Dechambeau are just a few of the top names to turn to the gym in order to improve their performance on the course.
In the women’s game, Nelly Korda, Brooke Henderson and Danielle Kang are all extremely fit athletes in their own right and their fitness is contributing to their success on the golf course. Henderson is a firm believer in the power of stretching and overall fitness, “A lot of people eat healthy and work out, but they miss out on the stretching,” she explains. “It’s key before you get to the golf course and even on the range to do a few stretches and exercises to get your body ready.”
This is a routine that is obviously working for Henderson. Fresh off the back of a win on the LPGA Tour at the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open in April, she is 25/1 with Betway for the Women’s US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in early June.