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Is Golf a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Quick Answer - Yes.

During 18 holes of golf, a golfer (regardless of handicap) will walk in excess of 10,000 steps and will cover on average 6.5 miles. Now that might be hard to relate to, but if you think that the average UK adult walks between 3-4000 steps per day, now it seems pretty good.

There are of course variations to be made. You can half those numbers if you play 9 holes (still pretty good) and you can also reduce by around 60% if you use a buggy. On a positive note, there seems to be very little difference in steps or distance walked between handicap levels or whether you push or carry.

golfer lining up a putt on the green with water behind

Now we know that golf is a good form of activity, let’s talk about the weight loss side. Removing extreme medical conditions, changes in weight occur based on two factors; Energy consumed (food and drink) and Energy used (living, exercise and movement).

In simple terms:

Consume more energy than you burn = Weight gain.

Burn more energy than you consume = Weight loss.

Playing a round of golf will significantly increase the ‘energy burnt’ side of the equation. To make ‘energy’ mean more to you, this is also known as ‘calories’ or ‘kcals’. The amount of calories burnt during a round of golf will vary based on weight, age, sex, muscle mass, speed of play etc. However the loose average for a male is ~900kcals and for a female ~550kcals. To put that into perspective for you, a Mars bar has 240 kcals. If you were able to get out for 18 holes, walking, once per week, you could alter the weight loss/gain equation by ~3600kcals in a month, the equivalent of around 1lb of fat. Up that to 2 rounds a week and that’s 2lbs of weight loss a month.

Unfortunately, from my experience, golfers’ diets dramatically change on the day of a round. There is often a cooked breakfast or bacon roll. Some mid round snacks or drinks. Maybe a stop at the halfway house before ending the round with a few pints and a packet of crisps. You will see that quite quickly, all of the extra calories burnt during the round, has been immediately consumed back again, hence keeping the weight loss/gain equation unchanged.

This is quite often the case away from golf as well, and becomes one of the biggest reasons even seemingly ‘active’ individuals are unable to shift those unwanted pounds. Once we understand the weight loss/gain equation we gain full control over the situation and can make choices to make change when we want to.

In short, golf is a fantastic way to burn energy, build stamina and live a healthy life. If you are able to walk 18 holes and do it often, the health benefits are huge. The positive effects of this sport can however be dragged down by the other habits that come with it.

If you love your golf, and you are serious about shifting some weight, I have two pieces of advice. Play more and don’t over consume. Change nothing else and you’ll start to see things move in the right direction.

Is golf a good way to lose weight? Definitely.

Do all golfers lose weight? Absolutely not.

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