So You’ve Bought Health Benefits Of Playing Golf … Now What?
Besides being my passion, golf is one of the most popular sports worldwide. Once known as a favorite past time of well off people, it has become more accessible to the wider public and can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone these days. Speaking about its popularity, it is estimated that there are around 32.000 golf courses around the globe.
As you know, golf is a game that consists of propelling a small, hard ball into a series of holes using a golf club. This entire activity doesn’t seem like much of a thrill, but it is surprising how many health benefits and overall positive things can one get from playing this game. So, without further ado, let’s talk about how and why golf can be good for you
Health Benefits of Golf
Good for the heart - Even though it doesn’t seem like it, golf involves quite a bit of physical work. As you already know, a golf player has to do a lot of walking all while carrying their club bag. Also, the dozens of swings that one performs during a game requires a lot of power and exerts a good amount of energy.
This kind of muscle stimulation increases blood flow and heart rate which can, in turn, decrease the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Of course, all of the se benefits increase combined with eating a healthy diet.
Decreases stress - All the fresh air and the greenery of the course can seriously boost serotonin levels thus improving the player’s mood and reducing stress and anxiety. It is a perfect escape from the hectic daily life that most folks lead today.
Better brain health - Physical activity in golf is not only good for the heart, but for the brain as well. With an increased heart rate, the blood flow to the brain also increases which repairs and improves nerve cells and their connections. This can prevent mental illness such as dementia. In addition, a ton of walking that you’ll do will help with the memory circuits of the brain decreasing the chance of getting Alzheimer’s.
Low-risk- Another great advantage of golf over other sports is that it is a low-impact, low-risk activity meaning that it spares your joints of stress and makes chances of injury very low.
Weight loss - When it comes to calorie burning this sport is no joke. In an 18-hole game, a player will roughly cover around 5-6 miles on foot which burns about 1500 calories. This expenditure is almost two times greater than a 1-hour run or a 30-minute swim.
Even the people who drive around in a golf buggy are estimated to spend more calories than a person does in an average gym session. All of the before mentioned makes golf a very enjoyable way to shed some extra pounds.
Improved vision –This might come as a surprise, but golf can be pretty good for your vision. Chasing the little white ball through the expanse of the course is definitely a visually challenging task, and it can help to sharpen your eyesight. Also, hand-eye coordination is a major factor that gets tested during the game.
Longer life - A study done in Sweden found that people who play golf have a 40% lower death rate than those who don't. It also showed that golfers could increase their life expectancy up to five years!
What Else is Golf Good for?
Socializing – As I’ve mentioned before, golf is not reserved for the wealthy anymore, but open to people of all classes and creeds. This creates a great opportunity to meet new folks and feel as if you are a part of something larger. It is not uncommon for experienced golfers to be eager to help out beginners with some tips and guidance.
Also, a golf game is a perfect chance to have fun and spend some quality time with people you already know like good friends or family. There is plenty of time for chatting and laughing all while taking part in a fun physical activity.
Hobby for a lifetime – Golf is quite easy to learn, and most people can get all the basics within a few weeks, but from then on there is no end to how much one can improve. Some have said that this is a sport which is impossible to master and this can put individuals into the mindset of constant progress. Since it is not physically strenuous, it can be enjoyed even in the later years of life, and the wish to constantly hone your skills will leave you with something to look forward to each day.
Challenges the mind – A game of golf is mostly mental because there are so many elements to it. Firstly, people have to train their ability to focus on the things that they can control, meaning that you will learn to focus on the process and not the end goal. Second, whatever the outcome is (ball falls somewhere you don't want, etc.), you will have to learn to deal with it and accept it.
These two factors are an essential part of this sport and practicing them will help you achieve a more positive mindset in any situation. This is very valuable because it can be transferred to other areas of life.
Hire a coach – As I've already said, basics of golf are fairly easy to learn, but it is advisable that you do it under the guidance of a professional. The reason for this is that it will probably save you a lot of time and frustration. There are some key things that someone experienced needs to show you such as stance, the proper way to hold a club and swing, etc. so it is definitely worth investing a few bucks into a good teacher.
Get proper clothes – Before choosing a golf course make sure to check whether they have a dress code because this is not uncommon. If they do, a polo shirt and khaki pants should usually be good enough for guys, and a polo shirt and golf shorts (or skorts) would be fine for ladies. Also when it comes to shoes, some models have metal spikes, and certain courses do not allow this, so proper foot ware check is also a must. Even if the club you pick doesn’t have a dress code, I advise you to get proper equipment. I am sure that you wouldn't go playing basketball in a suit, so realize that golf, like any other sport, requires adequate clothing.
Reserve the whole day – Golf is mentally and physically challenging as well as time-consuming on top of everything, so do not plan any other serious activities (work, meetings, etc.) the day that you go golfing. A good game will require preparation in the sense of strategy and warm up, which you can start doing right after breakfast. While you're playing you should not have anything else on your mind except the game itself because this is how you will perform at your best. Having something scheduled or planned after the match, might distract you and make you anxious which will ruin the whole experience. At the end of the day, you will probably be exhausted and not able to take part in anything that requires a lot of focu s and energy, so I advise you to drop all things besides golf that day.
Golf is a low-risk game, and there is little to no chance that you will hurt yourself. However, accidents happen and to further decrease the chances of anything going wrong it is important to prepare correctly.
Warm up – Always do a good warm up before engaging in the game. Focus mainly on back, arms, shoulders, and hips. Do light movements and stretches and then practice some gentle swings. This is also a good chance to focus on the right swinging technique.
Drink water - This rule is especially important during the summer season since there is a good chance of dehydration after spending hours and hours in the sun. Drink water before, during and after the match to ensure that this doesn't happen.
Sun protection – This tip also refers to the hot days, and you should never underestimate the importance of sun protective equipment. Wear a hat or a cap, proper clothing, shades and put on some sunscreen to prevent heat stroke which can occur more easily than you think. Also, in cases of extreme heat, it might be the best to postpone your game or play in the early morning or twilight.
Stand at a safe distance – Be aware that you are not the only person on the course, and when others are swinging try to stand at least four club lengths away from them.
If you have expressed a wish to try out golf, now is a good time to start. There are really much more pros than cons when it comes to this sport, so I wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a shot. Your body and mind will certainly benefit from this game, but do not forget to do right preparation before starting.