Golf is a fantastic game – it’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s entertaining, it’s strategic and can be very satisfying – but you can also hit a hole-in-one for your health when you regularly play a round! Studies have shown that golfers have a 40% lower mortality rate than non-golfers – a statistic that equates to around a five-year increase in life expectancy. And that holds true regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic status. That’s a phenomenal result you can achieve just by getting out on your local every week and having a hit (and if that doesn’t motivate you to get out on the course, then nothing will!).
So, just how and why does playing golf increase your life expectancy to such a degree? After all, it’s not particularly strenuous, and some people don’t even consider it to be overly “athletic”. You don’t have to be super-fit or young to play golf. So, what is it about this sport that’s so helpful for longevity? Let’s dive in and find out.
Improves your cardiovascular fitness
It’s a mistaken belief that golf doesn’t do much for your cardiovascular health. Sure, it’s not as intense as playing a game of touch football or boxing at your local gym, but it will still get your blood pumping, burn off some calories and help towards weight loss. The daily recommended step count for good health is 10,000 steps per day – and one round of golf will usually cover all of it. Dragging a walker golf buggy around will also help with the calorie burn.
As well, you can get all the benefits of exercise and a high step count, without putting a lot of stress on your body. Activities such as running or touch, while more “athletic”, also carry higher risk of injury. Golf is great for your cardiovascular health, as the continual activity helps improve your muscle tone, overall fitness and endurance.
Reduces risk of chronic conditions
Participating in regular activity, such as golf, has the added health benefit of reducing your risk of contracting many chronic conditions – such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. All the physical activity will raise your heart rate and increase the flow of blood to the heart, which reduces your risk of heart disease. In fact, golf is a great preventative measure if you have been diagnosed with heart disease – and can be considered as a form of treatment.
Improves your physical health
Physical health is becoming more and more important, particularly in an increasingly overweight society that is struggling to meet exercise guidelines. Golf is a wonderful choice for older people in particular, as it enables them to participate in a less strenuous form of activity, but still get all the benefits of exercise. Golf will also improve your vision and coordination, by helping you focus on targets and track the flight of the ball. And even if you use a golf buggy to get you around the course, you still reap all the health benefits of exercise, as you climb in and out of the buggy and hit your shots.
Enhances your balance and strength
And let’s not forget about strength and balance! Playing regular golf will give you improved posture and stronger bones, and can help ensure good bone health as you age. It’s considered weight-bearing exercise, which is good for your bones but easy on your joints. Plus, that extra exposure to sunlight can increase your Vitamin D levels, which will help your body absorb calcium to prevent bone loss. And better strength and balance will mean fewer falls as you age – and thus, much better health.
Improves your sleep
Golf, like most physical activity, will help you fall asleep easier and will allow you to get more and better-quality sleep.
Enhances your mental health
Golf has more than just physical health benefits, however. It’s also great for enhancing your mental health. Playing golf can improve your self-esteem, confidence, focus, concentration, accuracy, decision-making, problem-solving ability and creativity. As well, it can reduce stress and anxiety levels (apart from when you just can’t get your shots to work as you want them to!). All kidding aside, golf is excellent for brain health, as the mental aspect of the game will improve your mental capacity much as doing a puzzle would. And all of this can help delay the onset of mental illnesses, such as dementia. Plus, exercising outside in nature will release endorphins, which help you feel happier and more relaxed, and can reduce feelings of pain and depression.
Enhances your social connectedness
Golf is also a social sport. No one plays golf alone, and golf helps develop a sense of connectedness and community, and offers plenty of opportunity to spend time with friends, as well as meet new people. Loneliness can be extremely detrimental for your health, especially as you get older, and can cause a whole host of devastating health issues. Golf is a great way to stay in regular contact with people, while getting in some exercise at the same time.
So, next time you’re heading out to the course, remember that golf can add years to your life – as well as multiple health benefits that make it a great choice of sport for just about anyone!