Golfing for Good Health
As a PGA Golf Professional, I have always been a cheerleader of playing golf with nearly 40 years of coaching and teaching the game to thousands of people from beginners to touring professionals. Golf is not only a fun and challenging game it is good for your health too. In fact, there are so many health benefits to playing the game of a lifetime that would fill the pages of a book versus the limits of this magazine article. In a combination of commissioned studies and my anecdotal experiences from the world of golf, I have put together some of the health benefits based on the game of a lifetime. Also, meet one of my new golf students that is not only enjoying the game of golf, but is also benefitting from some of the health benefits from our experience together at the golf course.
Golfers Live Longer
According to a new research study by Edinburgh University, scientists now claim the game of golf is likely to increase your life span, counter chronic diseases and improve your mental outlook. This research was based on approximately 5,000 studies on golf throughout the world and concluded that the game of golf has physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages and abilities. In fact, the physical gains with people as they age resulted in better balance and muscle endurance and was likely to improve cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic health.
According to Dr. Andrew Murray, Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at Edinburgh University, “We know that the moderate physical activity that golf provides increases life expectancy, has mental health benefits and can help prevent and treat more than 40 major chronic diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer. Evidence suggests golfers live longer than non-golfers, enjoying improvements in cholesterol levels, body composition, wellness, self-esteem and self-worth. Given that the sport can be played by the very young to the very old, this demonstrates a wide variety of health benefits for people of all ages.” This study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and is part of the Golf and Health Project, which is led by the World Golf Foundation.
Health Benefits and Feeling Better
The game of golf is generally not recognized as a demanding physical sport, but talk to any golfer or even some of the world’s top athletes, they all will agree that of golf presents some of the greatest mental and physical challenges of any sport known to mankind. Top athletes understand the benefits of playing golf; they also know the health benefits verified by the Walker Research Group that is commissioned by the World Golf Foundation.
Typically the length of a golf course averages between five to seven miles and the total caloric expenditure swinging a golf club for an 18-hole round is approximately 2,000 calories for walking while carrying clubs and 1,300 calories when riding in a cart. Plus, all of this activity of hitting tee shots, playing from the fairways and putting on the greens will increase your heart rate and lower your risks for heart disease and decrease your levels of bad cholesterol. Blood glucose levels fall by up to 20% for the young, 10% for the middle-aged, and 30% for the elderly players and body weight is slightly reduced for all groups. Regardless of handicap, gender or course played, golfers exceed 10,000 steps during a typical round of golf, which meets the guideline for exercise recommended by most medical and clinical physicians.
Improves Your Mental and Physical Coordination
Anytime you can increase heart rate, you improve blood flow to the brain, which stimulates and improves nerve connections, and thus your ability to concentrate. Golf intrinsically is a game that pits the individual against the golf course and the limits of their own potential. Therefore, the mental benefit of golf is to foster hand-eye coordination, improve balance and build confidence and consistent motion. Repeated golf practice enhances balance control and confidence among all age ranges, especially with older golfers that tend to have better static and dynamic balance control and confidence than non-golfing older, healthy adults.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
We spend too much time inside sitting on the couch watching TV or playing with our technology. The game of golf is played on courses that are spread out over several hundred acres that exposes us to green grass, sunlight, fresh air and even a few critters that cross our paths. Studies have shown that consistent interaction with green areas relaxes the body and relieves stress and anxiety.
Connect with People
Golf is a social game and is a great way to meet new people or reconnect with old friends. It is a game that brings together people of all ages and abilities. Unlike other intense sports such as basketball or tennis, golf is a game that fosters conversation between golf shots and your day on the course can conclude in the clubhouse 19th hole. It has been said that you can learn more about a person’s character in one round on the course versus off the course, which explains why many business deals have been made by playing a round of golf.
Learn to Play the Game at Any Age: Meet Freddie Wehbe
During the past 20 years, longtime Gainesville resident Freddie Wehbe developed and operated a restaurant franchise in the Gainesville area. Long hours and time dedicated to work versus recreation was the sacrifice made by Freddie in effort to operate a business and also to give back to the community. Freddie was a frequent participant in local charity golf tournaments, but he was there to provide great food to the participants and sponsors, as well as provide maximum support to the charities that benefitted. Recently, he sold his successful business and is making the time to get out to learn, play, and enjoy the game of golf.
According to Wehbe, “Learning how to play golf is a welcomed challenge both physically and mentally. When I am out at the course working with my golf coach, John, I get away from reality and enjoy not only how to play, but the green grass and the fresh air!”
One of the benefits for a new golfer, such as Freddie, is the opportunity to improve flexibility. Everyone is built differently which means that no two golf swings are alike. Based on physical stature, age and athletic ability, there are varied degrees of flexibility that can be improved through the game of golf. Freddie has not only improved his ability to gain a wide r range of motion through swinging a golf club, his stability and balance has also improved. Freddie has also discovered that the game of golf can be contagious and a way not only to make new friends, but an excellent way to spend time with your family members.