When thinking about high-intensity sports and getting fit, golf might not be the first thing that springs to mind.
But, while you’d be right in saying golf is a fairly low-intensity sport, the health benefits of playing golf might surprise you.
For a start, playing golf means spending time outdoors, which, straight away, is beneficial for your physical and mental health in several ways—although perhaps not your mood if it’s raining!
Golf is a game of precision, careful planning and, if played regularly, heaps of health benefits. Regardless of what level you play at, here are 7 key health benefits of playing golf.
Golf helps maintain a good heart rate
Any exercise is good for your heart—we all know that. Golf is no different.
Your heart dictates many bodily functions and has an enormous influence on your general health, so anything you can do to help it will only benefit you.
Playing a round of golf involves various exercises and gets different parts of your body working in different ways—all of which are beneficial to your heart and general health, you’ll be pleased to know.
A healthy heart will substantially reduce your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack in later life.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that walking for an average of just 2.5 hours a day can help to reduce your risk of a heart attack by as much as 40%. Anyone who plays a full 18 regularly will know it takes longer than that!
Walking between holes, carrying your bag and swinging your golf club are just a few examples of what a normal round of golf entails. All these things will naturally increase your heart rate and hence improve your heart health.
The average golfer will typically do more than 10,000 steps over the course of a full 18 holes, depending on stride. So, yes, playing golf really is good for your heart.
Golf builds strength, endurance and core stability
Much like your heart, your core is also integral to several important bodily functions and your ability to do certain things. In fact, most sports rely on you having good core stability.
A good, well-balanced golf swing requires a solid core and concentration on your positioning. So, the more you play, the more work you’ll be doing naturally to improve your core.
However, as a golfer, you’ll know that a full 18, or even a 9-hole round, involves much more than just hitting balls.
As we mentioned earlier, navigating a golf course involves a lot of walking, too (unless you have a buggy, of course). Though so often disregarded as a valuable form of exercise, walking regularly helps build your quads and hamstrings, which later helps build general strength and endurance.
It’s no coincidence that improved balance, muscular function and overall strength are all direct health benefits of playing golf.
Related: 9 best core exercises for golfers
Golf relieves stress and anxiety
The health benefits of playing golf are by no means limited to just your physical health. The sport can do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing, too.
Doctors have been saying exercise is a natural stress reliever for centuries—and that includes golf.
Playing golf gets you out in fresh air, often with like-minded people, so it’s a great opportunity to refocus your mind and channel stress.
Exposing your lungs to fresh air often helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and just being outdoors, in general, helps relax muscle tension—which is more often than not caused by stress.
Not to mention that golf courses are often gorgeous, so they’re the perfect place to escape reality, even if only for a few hours.
Golf helps improve your vision
Your eyes and vision can deteriorate as you get older, but playing golf is a good way of helping keep your sight sharper for longer. And good eyesight will mean you can play golf for longer, too—so golf and your eyes very much rely on each other.
A standard golf ball is around 1.68in in diameter and can travel at speeds above 150mph once hit, so it requires some pretty careful vision to track it mid-flight.
Your eyes are arguably your greatest asset on the golf course, and though you might not think it, keeping your eye on the ball is a very good visual workout.
Playing golf consistently over time will help golfers develop their ability to hone in on small targets from long distances, stimulating the tracking functions within the brain.
So, a round of golf can do you more good than you think.
Golf can aid weight loss
Despite not being the most physically intense sport, golf can still help with your weight loss goals.
Though you might enjoy taking the odd moment to stand and admire your shots (and we don’t blame you for that), you’re almost constantly moving during a round of golf.
Studies have shown that walking the length of a full 18-hole course can burn up to 800 calories and even more if the terrain is particularly hilly.
If you’re playing tournament golf, too, the likelihood is that you’ll be doing this repeatedly over several days, so your calories burnt will start to add up. The more calories you burn, the more weight you can potentially lose, but it’s important to keep your body fuelled, too.
So, though golf may seem a somewhat ‘sedentary’ sport from the outside, the reality is quite the opposite. Professional golfers are well-conditioned athletes, and it’s not by accident.
Related: How to lose weight by playing golf
Golf promotes social interaction
Though golf is ultimately a solo sport in terms of competition, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s in any way exclusionary.
Another important mental health benefit of playing golf is that it promotes a healthy level of social interaction before, during and after rounds. In fact, it’s one of the most sociable sports you can play, which is what makes it so appealing to so many people.
There’s never a shortage of people to strike up a conversation with on the course, be it a fellow player, opponent or caddy, and you’re bound to have shared interests—golf related or not.
Of course, depending on where you’re playing, there’s also the clubhouse bar (or ‘19th hole’ as some golfers call it) for after your round.
Chatting to and making friends with like-minded people does wonders for your self-esteem, social skills and mental wellbeing—because, remember, ‘health’ is a lot more than just the ‘physical stuff’.
Golf helps you get a better night’s sleep
Another one of the more potentially surprising health benefits of playing golf is the good it can do for your sleep cycle.
Like with your eyes, golf and sleep work together in sync, each benefitting the other. In fact, some studies have shown that getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce your handicap over time.
If you struggle with insomnia or another similar sleep-related ailment, you might find playing golf during the day hugely beneficial come bedtime. Similarly, golf can help if you find it difficult to concentrate on certain daily tasks.
Believe it or not, the combination of light to moderate exercise (in this case, golf), fresh air and natural light helps you get a better night’s sleep. Not just that, but playing golf regularly also helps lay the general foundations for establishing a healthy all-round routine.
Getting good, regular exercise will allow your body to regulate its sleep cycle, which means you’ll benefit from better quality sleep at night and improved focus and concentration during the day.
Despite the various health benefits of playing golf, it still carries its fair share of risk. Some studies suggest golf is a more ‘dangerous’ sport than rugby as far as injuries are concerned.
That’s why you should consider taking out specialist golf insurance for both yourself and your equipment if you play the sport regularly.
- Equipment cover up to £5,000
- Public Liability up to £5m
- Third-Party Property Damage up to £2,500
Click on the button below to learn more about Insure4Sport’s golf insurance and get a quote today.