What Are The Health Benefits Of Playing Golf?
Quick answer: A happier, healthier, longer life.
Golf is a sport that is often picked up later in life. The average age of an amateur golfer is between 50-60 depending on country of residence and is seen by most as a relatively low intensity option for sport as we age. It is often turned to as an alternative to another sport that the body can no longer handle and provides a continued feel of competition and participation.
So as a sport that is typically taken up as a low intensity alternative, how good for us is it? What health benefits does it provide? And is it a good way to stay in shape?
As I mentioned in a previous article (Is golf a good way to lose weight), 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. Taking away the golf, the health benefits of walking this distance on a regular basis are undervalued. This type of activity will improve cardiovascular fitness whilst also reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of heart disease. It will improve joint health, boost circulation and build bone strength whilst also providing a good basis for fat loss and weight management.
When we add in the demands of golf, there will also be stimulus for improved balance, coordination and suppleness. The physical demand of this seemingly low intensity sport is more than sufficient for making drastic changes to our health and wellbeing. These benefits will all prolong your life. In fact, a study on Swedish golfers showed an increased life expectancy of 5 years in golers vs non-golfers. Some studies have also shown that golfers possess stronger grip and lower body strength compared to their non-golfing peers.
There are mental benefits too. The physical demands of golf will stimulate neurogenesis and will delay cognitive decline and memory loss. Whether you play well or not, the exercise will also provide a boost in endorphin levels helping combat depression, anxiety and stress. Golf is also a highly social sport. This feeling of belonging, group support and social interaction can provide self confidence and motivation to golfers of all ages.
Something that needs to be considered however, is that the majority of health benefits coming from golf, occur from the exercise part of the sport. If a cart is used, the positive health effects are significantly reduced. Typically we see the amount of steps taken cut in half compared to walking. There will also be a significant reduction in cardiovascular demand as the majority of the longer distance walks or those with sharp gradients will be removed. Although the social and some physical benefits could be taken, it is safe to say that the overall health benefits are largely removed with the addition of a cart.
In summary; Golf is a great way to live a long healthy life. If you are unable to play without using a cart then it would be highly beneficial to have other activities that provide health and wellbeing adaptations.
Remember you can join Team Macro Golf for free and get access to golf fitness and performance coaching and be a part of a growing community of like-minded golfers.