Golf tends to have a reputation as a leisure activity, with minimal physical demands on the body and the mind. Most people don’t realize that playing a round (or two) of golf is a great way to get in some exercise, increase your wellness, and improve your health, especially for those of us that are getting older. Here are some ways that playing a game of golf contributes to our wellness:
1.Exposure to Nature: Getting yourself outside and basking in nature does wonders for our minds and bodies. Exposure to “green” (as in green grass) relaxes the body, reduces stress, and helps to alleviate anxiety. Exposing our bodies to sunlight gives us a dose of Vitamin D, which also reduces the risk of depression, heart disease, and cancer.
Even before you hit the ball you are often surrounded by gorgeous scenery as you head over to the first tee. Golf courses are known for their spectacular greenery, water displays, and landscape design. Breathe in the fresh air, and feel your stress instantly start to go away.
2. Get Social: Golf is a very social sport, it’s a great venue to connect with friends, business associates, or spend some quality time with family members. It’s also a great place to meet new people. Golf is not an intense sport and allows for conversation.
3. Strengthens your Muscles and Burn Calories: Women golfers often note that the sport is a great way to strengthen leg muscles, especially the quadriceps. Covering 18 holes means a lot of walking (if you ditch the cart), which can equate to two to four miles depending on the course and length of play. With all the walking, carrying, and swinging involved in this sport, you can burn upwards of 1,000 calories by playing a round. The fitness benefits of playing 18 holes should not laughed at. Golf works your gluteus maximus (butt), the pectoralis major (chest), latissimus dorsi (back), forearms, and core muscles.
A study conducted by Neil Wolkodoff, the director of the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Colorado, ascertained that walking for a full round while carrying a golf bag burns 1,442 calories. Conversely, riding in a cart nearly halves that figure (822). Walking with a pull buggy burns 1,436 calories and walking with a caddie carrying the bag still eats away 1,226.4
If you often aim to hit 10,000 steps per day, then walking 18 holes, according to Mayo Clinic Research, will definitely fulfill that requirement, and then some. While you will still get some exercise even if you do ride in the cart, you’ll truly benefit by walking the course, even more so if you are carrying your clubs.
4. Elevate your Health: Playing a round of golf and the continuous walking throughout the game will keep your heart rate up. You’ll constantly be increasing blood flow while you are playing, which will contribute to lowering your risk for heart disease and decrease your levels of “bad” cholesterol.
5. Increase Brain Power: Golf is a game of challenge, and it will boost your confidence and self-esteem along the way. You’ll constantly be working on strategy, practicing hand-eye coordination, improve your vision, and more while you are playing.
Randy Chang , a PGA Golf Instructor for the Journey Golf Course at Pechanga works with students of all ages to increase their wellness through golf. He says that, “The challenge to learning this game is that it goes against everything you instinctively and athletically want to naturally do. The key to learning anything new is attitude and a different mental approach. You’re bound to feel better at the end if you just give it a shot!”
If you’ve never played before, stimulating your brain cells by learning something new, will contribute greatly to your wellness. Book a lesson with a golf pro, who will teach you how to grip the club, stand properly, swing, and eventually hit the ball.
“Learning how to hit a ball in this game of golf can be easier than most people think. Some of the things I’ve learned about teaching for 35 years is that it doesn’t take hand eye coordination to hit a golf ball — and you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! I love teaching all ages, but I admire those who want to try new things as they get older when so many of us blame their lack of time or exhaustion for doing something that makes them happy.”-Randy Chang, PGA Golf PRO
6. Getting a Good Nights Sleep: Increased exercise during the day, means that your body will fall into a slumber quicker and easier at night. Studies show that those who golf, fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep than those that don’t.
7. Stress Relief: Being in the outdoors, while you are interacting with others makes it easy to forget your troubles. The pleasure of spending time in nature, surrounded by friends is enough to put anyone in a good mood.
Originally published at medium.com