Playing golf has amazing potential health benefits. We take a look at the top 10 reasons to pick up a club.
Golf is one of the most popular recreational sports in the world, and with good reason. Golf is a low-impact activity that offers a variety of health benefits for people of any age.
We take a look at the top 10 health benefits of playing golf.
1. Golf gets you outside, into the sun and the fresh air
Playing golf means spending a lot of time outdoors, and any activity that gets you outside is beneficial for your health in various ways.
Fresh air can help everything from your digestive health to your blood pressure and heart rate. People who spend more time outdoors are at lower risk of various chronic health diseases, including obesity.1
Spending time in direct sunlight is necessary to get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts your health in a number of ways, including supporting your immune system, which is also thought to be bolstered by exposure to fresh air.
Remember to wear sunscreen, as you’d be surprised at how much sun exposure you’re getting from a round of golf.
As many golf courses are set in picturesque locations, you’ll also benefit from the experience of being in nature. Being outdoors and close to nature can help reduce anxiety and is thought to improve concentration, while partaking in activities outside can help boost self-esteem.
2. Golf is a social sport
Don’t be fooled into thinking golf is a one-man sport. The social aspect is what makes the game so appealing to many people. Whether it’s your caddy or a fellow player, make the most of your shared interests and strike up a conversation with other players on the course.
Having someone to share a drink with at the ‘19th hole’ (clubhouse bar) is not the only benefit. Playing sports with other people helps boost your self-esteem, social skills and overall mental wellbeing.
3. It fosters a healthy sense of competition...
When meeting new golfer friends, one of the first things they'll ask is your handicap. Genuine curiosity could turn into a sense of envy once you realise they're a little better at the game.
So long as you don’t take it too far, competition can actually be good for you, encouraging you to challenge yourself and improve your own skills.
4. ...but can be enjoyed just as well without keeping score
Many sports can only be played in teams. Golf is a pastime that you can easily enjoy by yourself if you want to. Sometimes it’s great to spend time alone. In fact, studies have shown that people who are happy spending time alone tend to be happier overall.
When you do play alone, there's no need to have a score card, or to even count the number of shots you take. And without a rival to keep up with, every hole can be attempted at your own pace.
5. Golf can improve concentration and boost your brain
Golf is a sport that teaches accuracy, focus and concentration. It also encourages creativity and creative thinking, such as the foresight to visualise where and how far your shot will go. Hand-eye coordination is essential in golf – as is knowing where your ball landed.
The course can often be a quieter place to learn these skills, without the roar of a crowd or the umpire's whistle to distract you.
Golfing is a fairly active pastime, and getting your circulation going means more blood is pumped to your brain. There's been plenty of research into how playing golf affects how you think.
Repeated swings improve your muscle memory, and navigating a course gives you a greater sense of distance and depth.
6. Playing golf is good for your heart
As mentioned, golf gets your circulation going, encouraging your heart to work more efficiently, and helping to build its muscles.
So, golf exercises your heart and keeps your heart rate up. This will naturally lower your risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular issues, as well as potentially lowering your levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Regularly playing golf may even lead to an increase in life expectancy.2
7. Golfing can relieve stress and improve your mental health
For many people, a game of golf is a great way of reducing stress. Teeing off when you’re in a bad mood will channel your tension and stress into something productive.
Plus, exercise helps our bodies release endorphins, which improve your mood and can reduce pain, as well as reducing feelings of depression.
8. Golf burns calories and can help with weight loss
Golf is not a high-energy sport, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help towards weight loss. You might not feel like you’re getting an intense workout, but all that swinging and putting, plus walking an 18-hole course, really does add up. On a typical round, you’ll be almost constantly moving.
This sustained activity keeps your heart rate up and at an optimum level for burning calories. But remember, you won’t feel the same benefit if you opt for a buggy.
The average length of a full 18-hole golf course is around 3.5 miles. It's been estimated that walking around the course could burn up to double the calories compared to making the trip in a buggy.
9. Serious injury is not very likely
No physical activity comes with zero risk of injury, but golf is certainly a low-risk sport. As a 'low impact' form of activity, golf rarely exposes you to the risk of serious injuries.
Of course, it is possible to hurt yourself. But perfecting your form and being careful when carrying your kit should protect you from golfing injuries.
Something you may find, if you spend a lot of time working on your backswing, is that you get golfer's elbow. It's similar to tennis elbow, which is a painful condition caused by strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons in the forearm.
A little rest is usually all that's needed to get better, but physiotherapy can help to strengthen muscles and reduce pain. You can refer yourself to physiotherapy (without need for a GP referral), and your physical therapist can always recommend you to a specialist if they think you need one.
10. Golf helps you sleep better
The combination of exercise, fresh air and natural light will all help you to get a better night’s sleep after a round of golf. It may feel like low-impact activity at the time, but golf is nonetheless a significant workout.
Golf's effect on your sleep quality in turn makes you a better golfer. Some studies have shown that sleeping better will eventually lower your handicap. Golfers who had trouble sleeping, for reasons such as sleep apnoea, discovered that their game improved once they could get a full night's rest.
From boosted immunity to a better night’s sleep, mental health benefits to the potential of weight loss, there are many great health benefits of playing golf. What’s stopping you from heading to the green?
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1Time Spent Outdoors, Activity Levels, and Chronic Disease among American Adults
2The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review
3Does Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Golfers Improve Their Handicap?