To the layman, golf is still often viewed as an ‘elderly person’ sport that is certainly not physical and, to some, would not even be viewed as a legitimate ‘sport’. This is of course a myth, as anyone who plays the game would testify to. Whilst golf may not carry with it the same physical exertion of some higher-impact sports, it is a lot more physical than may first seem apparent, and can actually be a key contributor to weight loss, longer living and improved mental well-being.
The average golfer has a club speed of 93mph. This is incredibly powerful, and many people often don’t realise is how explosive a sport golf really is. In order to generate these kinds of club speeds, the player must use several different muscles to great effect, especially if they want to hit it straight, with impeccable timing. Another factor that people often don’t take into account is the distance covered when playing a round of golf, the average course is 6500 yards which equates to approximately 4 miles of walking, often with a bag of clubs and balls on your back. When you consider these aspects, coupled with being entrenched in nature for 4-5 hours, breathing in fresh air and feeling relaxed it should come as no surprise that golf actually has some pretty significant health benefits.
As mentioned previously the average golf course is approximately 4 miles, however most people do not walk in a straight line when playing, they may also deviate from the route to look for their own, or help others, look for their ball. There may be a big distance between tees. This means that the average distance covered during a round of golf will probably more likely be around 6 miles. According to Golf Digest magazine, ‘fitness experts estimate you’ll burn roughly 1,500 calories during a four-hour round’ means the average golfer burns around 1,400 calories per round.’ Regularly walking this distance and burning so many calories will help reduce the risk of heart disease whilst significantly aiding weight loss. Paired with a healthy lifestyle some studies say that golfers can expect to add 5 years to their life expectancy.
Whilst golf is hugely beneficial to an individual’s physical state, it is not a high-impact sport like tennis or football that carry a much higher risk of injury, especially as people may get into their later years and find they are unable to run or twist like they used to.
Of course, people may suffer the odd sprain, or twist in a muscle, but as the golfer is in charge of the intensity of their swing, it is often easily managed and can be prevented before it becomes a real issue.
Golf is an extremely social sport, each game typically taking 4-5 hours to complete, giving you plenty of time to talk during the round, unlike most other sports which do not involve discussion during the game. Most people will have a social circle that they play golf with, and will develop friendships with people at their local club. This can have a hugely beneficial impact on mental health, especially for retirees who may otherwise be lonely and subsequently suffer from anxiety or depression, common among the elderly who may have lost touch with their old social circles.
Golf is easy to learn but incredibly hard to master. It involves full concentration during shots and often careful course planning in between. It is therefore extremely mentally challenging, both in terms of concentration and, due to its difficult nature, a good test of their temperament. Much like meditation, it requires the person playing to be completely present, and rid themselves of any negative thoughts, as they must focus to play well.
Another key factor to consider is the unquantifiable, but undeniable, health benefit of being surrounded by nature, inhaling fresh air and being surrounded by greenery. With courses all over the world in incredibly picturesque destinations, people can enjoy this sport surrounded by truly breathtaking scenery. According to Harvard Health, ‘research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.’
It is fairly easy to see how beneficial golf can be to both your physical health and your emotional and psychological wellbeing. Here is a therapy that has no known side-effects and is readily available to all who want to partake in it. If you hadn’t realised the far reaching benefits of golf before now, we hope this article encourages you to grab your clubs and get out onto your nearest course.