Golf is a sport that is played by individuals of all ages worldwide. That said, it is more common among middle-aged and older individuals who are less active than those who are younger. Over the years the game has become popular due to its potential to provide physical activity and the health benefits tied to physical activity. Here we analyze the benefits of golf among individuals of all ages.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Golf?
Playing golf has discernible benefits for mental and physical health. Research shows that this activity has a variety of benefits, some of which include:
Increases Social Interactions
Golf is not a one-person sport. Instead, it is a game that brings people together, providing them with an opportunity to interact and enjoy the outdoors (1). A good thing is that you do not have to actually play the game well with your friends or colleagues.
Instead, you can meet new individuals who share a common interest in the game and strike up a conversation as you play. This an opportunity to network and enhance your social connections.
Helps Burn Calories
Golf is not a vigorous or high-energy sport. Now that does not mean that it is not a good form of exercise. You work several of your body muscles which helps burn calories. For instance, during the forward swing, you activate your upper and lower gluteus maximus.
Similarly, when you raise your arms in the air after the swing, you target your pectorals and latissimus muscles. Golf also involves walking throughout an 18-hole course, which keeps your heart rate up at an optimum level to burn calories (1).
But it is worth noting that this activity may not be the most effective to follow for weight loss. That is because you may not burn calories as fast as when you perform other activities. But remember that the number of calories you burn also depends on your weight and exercise time.
For example, an individual weighing 160 pounds (73 kg) and exercising for an hour burns the following calorie if performing the following activities (4):
- Golfing when carrying clubs: 314
- Water aerobics: 402
- Walking at 3.5 mph: 314
- Running at 5 mph: 606
- Hiking: 438
- Low-impact aerobics: 365
It would be best to talk to a professional for more guidance on the best weight loss activity that suits your needs and fitness level.
Read More: Youth Fitness Activities And Their Benefits
Gets You In The Outdoors
Increasing The Activity’s Intensity
Several aspects of the outdoors, such as the wind and uneven ground, vary your walking activity. As a result, you burn more calories than if you were walking on a smooth surface without wind.
Helps You Get Enough Vitamin D
The sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D. Your body needs this vitamin for better functioning of your bones, immune system, and blood cells (6). Additionally, the vitamin is essential in absorbing minerals like calcium and phosphorus (6).
Being out in the sun while playing golf gives your body ample time to make this vitamin. However, since you may spend a lot of time outside, it would be best to protect yourself from the harsh sun rays. That is by wearing protective hats, eyeglasses, and sunscreen.
Being outside also reduces anxiety levels, thanks in part to enjoying nature and getting fresh air. Additionally, WebMD reveals that sunlight increases serotonin levels, which raises your mood and energy (6). It would be best to take your time and enjoy your surroundings and avoid getting soaked up in the game.
Improves Your Sleep Quality
Being outdoors improves your sleep quality and quantity by setting your sleep cycle. It resets your body’s internal clock and improves your natural circadian rhythms, which help you sleep soundly at night (6).
Improved Mental Well-Being
Playing golf improves your mental health in several ways. First, the game causes you to release feel-good endorphins that help keep stress, depression, and anxiety at bay. Secondly, the game increases your mental alertness by keeping your brain active and focused.
Similarly, playing golf has been associated with better mental health due to improved self-worth, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and social connections (1). Evidence also suggests more high-quality research to assess and better understand the relationship between golf and mental health/well-being (1).
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Promoting Healthy And Active Aging
You may have noticed that older individuals enjoy playing golf. And while some only do it to improve their swing, playing golf has been linked to healthy and active aging among seniors. That is because it encourages them to socialize and sharpen their concentration skills, elements that improve their quality of life (1).
Similarly, the game allows them to sneak in some cardio by walking, helping them burn calories and reduce the risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the game increases their standing ability, endurance, balance, posture, and cognitive processing. All these contribute to healthy and active aging (1).
Helps With Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder that results in the loss of dopamine and alters the inhibitory and excitatory pathways (5). As a result, it causes slowness of movement, impaired balance and posture, trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face, and muscle rigidity (5).
According to WebMD, golf therapy is one of the interventions considered for Parkinson’s disease alongside tai chi. The two interventions focus on anticipatory balance and spine rotation, which are significantly affected in Parkinson’s disease.
However, unlike tai chi, golf might be more beneficial due to the manipulation tasks that require slow and fast movements (2).
Reduced Risk Of Diseases
As a physical activity, playing golf has been shown to reduce the risk of several chronic conditions. These include type 2 diabetes, dementia, cardiovascular disease, depression, and breast and colon cancer (1).
Research also shows playing golf can positively influence the health of individuals with disability (1).
Improves Heart Health
Playing golf helps your heart in several ways. For one, you are always on the go throughout the course, meaning your circulation is ever going. It encourages your heart to work more efficiently in pumping blood and building its muscles.
Additionally, scientific evidence shows that golf is tied to improvements in several known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include blood lipid levels, insulin levels, body composition and glucose levels (1).
Besides being outdoors, the game itself also has relaxation benefits. That is because you get to let go of anxiety and stress in every swing. That is particularly true if you are playing by yourself without the pressure to win or compete.
Additionally, when playing golf, your body releases endorphins that help you feel good and alleviate stress. It is an excellent activity to help you escape the daily hassles for a few hours.
One of the many reasons golf for kids is an extra challenge is that it challenges them to constantly be their best. You find that kids will often analyze what they did well and the changes or improvements they can make to beat you at the next game.
Over time they may develop these self-improvement skills in all aspects of their life. These skills are essential as they increase self-awareness and help them make more intelligent decisions on how to tackle challenges.
Is Playing Golf Safe?
After seeing the health benefits of playing golf, you may be interested in the game. But, of course, you may be worried about whether or not it is safe. Most scientific studies on the game show that it is safe.
A 2018 study revealed that the annual incidence of injury linked to playing golf is moderate compared with other sports. Additionally, the risk of injury per hour was low compared to other sports (1).
Additionally, evidence shows that serious injury is rare when playing golf. An accidental head injury may be sustained if struck by a ball or club and result in fatal effects (1). With that in mind, be careful while playing to avoid striking or getting struck.
Additionally, golfers spend a substantial amount of time in the sun. Therefore, they can be exposed to harmful sun rays and increase their risk of skin cancer if appropriate care and consideration are not taken. So, implement protective measures such as wearing protective clothing like hats and applying sunscreen.
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All of the above are some of the health benefits of playing golf. However, it is worth noting that the magnitude of these health benefits varies from person to person due to several factors. These include their age, fitness level, frequency of play, and the course’s topography (1).
The same thing applies to the magnitude of the health problems/risks. It would be best to talk to a professional if you are interested in playing this activity for any listed benefits.
The Bottom Line
Playing golf has been linked to several physical and mental benefits. Some of these benefits of golf include reducing disease risk, burning calories, improving social connections, mental well-being, relaxation, heart health, and sleep quality.
Research also shows it helps with Parkinson’s disease and promotes healthy and active aging. However, the magnitude of these benefits is influenced by factors such as your age and fitness level. Consult your health professional if you are interested in this game for any of these benefits.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 2018 International Consensus Statement on Golf and Health to guide action by people, policymakers and the golf industry (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- A Swing and a Hit? Golf May Help With Parkinson’s (2021, webmd.com)
- Cardiovascular Health & The Golfer (2022, golfandhealth.org)
- Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- Golf as a Physical Activity to Potentially Reduce the Risk of Falls in Older Adults with Parkinson’s Disease (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health Benefits of Getting Outside (2021, webmd.com)