The origins of the golf game date all the way back to 15th Century Scotland. Despite attempts to outlaw the game, King James II of England failed in his efforts to thwart golf owing to the distracting effect it had on his fighting men. It seemed that his troops preferred golf lessons to target practice. Since then, countless millions in just about every country have taken to the fascinating game of golf. The reasons are easy to understand thanks to the physical and mental challenges the sport brings to all participants.
So just how appropriate is this game for the body and soul? Are the many stated health benefits of golf, promoted via scientific and anecdotal sources accurate in their claims? We take a closer look in this article as we examine 7 good health reasons for taking up golf clubs. Remember, the benefits of proper golf lessons from a good Pro are immeasurable before bad habits develop…
- Cardiac health – We all know that any form of physical exercise is going to get the blood pumping as the heart gets to work to meet the demands of everyday life. Much walking and pacing back and forth are part of the game of golf routine. Carrying your bag with the added weight of the clubs and swing routines also do their bit towards increasing your pulse rate and blood circulation. In turn, this helps reduce the risk of diabetes and strokes, while the positive benefits of improved blood pressure and lowered cholesterol levels are potential lifesavers too. Remember to consult your GP before you take part in golf games.
- Brain stimulation – Nothing beats routine daily walking to strengthen the memory sections of our brain circuits. According to Clive Ballard, past director of research at the Alzheimer Society, “Whether it is going for a jog or walking the golf course, keeping physically active is a great way to keep your heart and your brain healthy. By keeping active you make sure your brain has a good, strong blood supply, which is essential to help it function better now and in future.”
- Stress reduction – Here, golf offers it all, from plenty of good clean, fresh air to the thrill of socialising. It is not by chance that our golf courses evolve into sought after areas to live near. They serve as green lungs for entire communities. The extra mental challenge of tuning our minds to the game releases endorphins, which serve as enhancers in the brain. This likely explains why golfers are happy and relaxed while indulging in their favourite sporting pursuit.
- Sleep improvement – Little beats good exercise while breathing in loads of fresh air when it comes to retiring at night and enjoying a good sleep. Decent exercise assists us to get to sleep quicker and then enter deep sleep too. A good night’s sleep is conducive to relaxing and repairing stressed muscles. Recalling the action of the day out there in stunning scenery is sure to put us to sleep in a heartbeat.
- Minimal injury risks – It is an accepted fact that the game of golf involves low-impact action on our bodies, but enrolling for golf lessons reduces the risk of injury still further. Proper tuition and treading on soft, undulating surfaces as we walk on the fairways between each green are the secrets to injury-free golf. While this activity certainly burns calories, it does so in a controlled manner with low risk of hurting ourselves. Incidentally, there is no need to splash out on a golf bag stuffed with golf clubs most of which you will seldom, if ever use – the main bonus being a saving on weight as you walk the golf course.
- Longer living – Research led by Professor Anders Ahlbom, of the Swedish Karolinska Institute, revealed that golfers enjoy up to 40% less risk of premature death rate across the board. This equates to a 5-year increase in life expectancy amongst the golfing fraternity – suggested reading: A game of life and death – reduced mortality in Swedish golf players.
- Weight control – Experts advise that 10,000 steps a day form the minimum requirement in your battle against weight increase. One 18-hole round easily exceeds this target, particularly if you walk rather than use a golf cart. Research by the Norwegian Golf Federation (NGF) found that male golfers burn around 2,500 kCal during an 18-hole round, and females approximately 1,500 kCal.
Maintaining a healthy diet and clean lifestyle in parallel with regular golf games, adds to the feel good factor while reducing your risk profile. You do not need the most expensive equipment to take up the wonderful game of golf. It makes more sense to buy your golf clubs second hand; you can always upgrade later.
One round of a fine golf game over a standard course means you are outdoors moving around and covering a distance of 6-7km over potentially several hours. Factor in the sun and other climatic conditions, and your mind shifts constantly as you focus on the many intriguing challenges you face. Time to find the golf clubs that suit you best so that you can enjoy the time of your life.