Many non-golfers scoff that the game demands very little physical prowess or exertion, and therefore provides minimal health benefits. You spend most of the round in a cart, occasionally stopping to hit a stationary ball while standing still, they argue. How healthful can it be?
As it turns out, golf can boost your strength, flexibility, mental acuity and mood. It may even help you live longer.
Not bad for a supposedly non-athletic pursuit, huh?
To be sure, walking the course delivers more benefits than riding a cart. However, riders enjoy positive effects too. The simple act of swinging the club repeatedly – including practice swings as well as hitting shots – improves flexibility, circulation, balance, posture, lower-back strength and muscle tone. In fact, golf can strengthen the upper and lower body as well as your core (abdominal) muscles.
Compared with their non-golfing counterparts, golfers display better hand-eye coordination, range of motion and mobility. Those who suffer from arthritis or other pain may find relief in the golf swing, which gently works the muscles and joints.
Golf can impact your well-being between the ears, too. By forcing you to think strategically, control your emotions, make countless decisions and master very specific skills, golf may enhance your self-confidence, creativity and visual memory while helping you adapt more effectively to change.
And while every golfer is familiar with the game’s frustrating aspects, playing can actually improve your overall mood – on and off the course. Playing (especially if you walk) gives your body a jolt of feel-good hormones, called endorphins. Time spent in the sun helps your body produce vitamin D, which among other functions regulates the immune system. In general, folks who exercise regularly enjoy a more positive outlook on life.
Perhaps most amazing of all, a study by Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet found a 40% lower death rate for golfers vs. non-golfers of the same age, sex and socioeconomic range. Translated, that’s five years added to your life span.