If exercise classes and working out in a gym don’t appeal to you, there are other great ways to boost your physical activity – golf being one of them. Golf is not only great fun, research shows it also offers a wide range of physical benefits, such as improving strength, flexibility and endurance, as well as having a positive impact on your mental well-being. A game of golf can help players exceed the recommended government guidelines for physical activity and one study has shown players can burn over 500 calories over 18 holes. So grab your clubs and get out in the fresh air, just make sure you avoid the temptation of the 19th hole!
To really reap the benefits of a game of golf you need to leave the golf buggy at the clubhouse. A full 18-hole round of golf involves walking around 5 miles of varying gradients which is great cardio-exercise to really get the heart pumping. A round will also smash your recommended 10k steps a day as well as burning a hefty amount of calories, in fact the average player will burn an impressive 1,400 calories per game.
- Strength training
Along with the amount of walking involved in a round of golf, the swing in itself provides a full body workout. Each full swing exercises your arms, legs, back and abdomen, strengthening muscles which wouldn’t ordinarily be used in day-to-day activities, as well as improving your balance and flexibility. Each game involves numerous repetitions over the course of a round - approximately 30+ times for accomplished players and many more for novice golfers. As each swing works your core muscles, this is turn can have a positive impact on your posture which can help to prevent aches and pains caused by back and neck injuries.
Team this with the lifting and carrying of your golf bag over long distances which can work wonders for your strength and endurance. Doing this a couple of times a week will really put your upper body through its paces.
- Low impact
Unlike many more strenuous forms of exercise, golf is a great sport for all ages and genders to enjoy, young and old. The ‘low impact’ nature of the game means that joints are not subject to the stresses and strains of more energetic activities like tennis and running. So there’s nothing stopping you from challenging your son or daughter or even grandchildren to a game!
The golf range is a great place to ease new players in to the sport, improving fitness levels slowly and allowing your body to adjust to the new demands of the game before heading out on the golf course for a round.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Beyond the numerous physical health benefits, golf is also proven to have a positive impact on mental well-being, something which shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to your overall health.
- Mood booster
Getting out for a walk in the fresh air does wonders for endorphin and serotonin levels, leading to an improved mood and reduced levels of stress and anxiety, which in turn can reduce blood pressure. A few hours out in the sunshine can also boost vitamin D levels – the sunshine vitamin proven to fight depression as well as boost brain function and reduce the risk of some forms of cancer. Coupled with an escape from the hassles of day-to-day life, the game can provide a great opportunity for relaxation.
- Alertness and concentration
Playing golf is a work out for the brain as much as the body. Remembering numbers and techniques, calculating scores and estimating distances and gradients are all excellent ways to keep your mind active. A high level of concentration is also required when taking shots. Research by England Golf found that playing golf has been linked to increased brain function, improved memory as well as reducing the risk of developing dementia.
- Social benefits
Whether you choose to play with colleagues, friends or family, there is no denying that golf provides a great opportunity for social interaction. A golf club can also be a great place to make new friends and enjoy the game with other like minded people. In a world dominated by email and mobile phones some good old face-to-face interaction over a game of golf can really boost your endorphins and get the feel good chemical flowing.
Getting started in golf is straightforward and the sport can be accessible to all. With golf clubs to suit all budgets and many offering ‘pay as you play’ courses, there’s never been a better time to take up the game – you could well be the next Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods!