Golf is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, but it’s more than just a relaxing day out. While people who don’t play golf often think of it as a lot of standing around, there’s actually quite a bit of movement and mental action going on throughout the game. You may not be running back and forth and getting winded, but both your body and mind are engaged in ways you might not have realized. Why play golf if you haven’t before? We’ll lay out the physical and mental health benefits you can expect from this sport.
Physical Benefits of Playing Golf
Golf is the perfect low-impact sport for many people. Just how does it benefit your body? Here are three physical benefits of golf.
Getting Recommended Activity
Although many view it as a leisurely stroll, the reality is that walking the golf course does count as exercise. There’s no rule that you need to use the golf carts, and choosing not to do so can elevate your heart rate enough to classify the activity as moderate-intensity exercise. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, which helps reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
There’s also the fact that golfing involves the use of multiple muscle groups. While you’re driving your club, picking up balls and walking up hills or sandpits, you are engaging important muscles. The lower body gets the most benefit, with your quads and hamstrings doing the most work. Don’t forget that a golf bag is a significant weight, so if you’re carrying it around, you also get a great workout for your upper body.
Golf can actually help you lose weight, or help maintain a healthy weight by burning calories. You cover a lot of ground during a game. If you walked in a straight line through the whole game, you could cover around four miles in 18 holes. However, following the ball means you don’t follow a linear path, which extends the mileage you can get out of a game. In an experiment by Golf Monthly, the average distance walked was 6.6 miles, while the longest distance walked was 7.8 miles.
When it comes to golf health statistics, the calorie count is among the most impressive. A brisk game of golf can burn around 1,500 calories if you choose to walk. If you ride in a cart, you’ll burn around 825 fewer calories, but that’s still better than doing no activity at all.
Fresh Air and Sunshine
Many of the physical health benefits of playing golf are directly tied to being outside. Taking in fresh air makes you feel invigorated and can help you breathe easier. Home and office spaces have more dust and other contaminants than most people realize, and getting some clean outside air into your lungs can help them function better in both the short and long term.
Playing golf on a sunny day has health benefits as well. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and keep your bones healthy. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, your body only absorbs between 10 and 15% of the calcium you get from food, but when your vitamin D levels are adequate, you can benefit from a 30-40% absorption rate.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common in the U.S., partially because many of us live such sedentary lifestyles and don’t get enough sunlight. Getting out and playing a round of golf when the sun is shining can top up your vitamin D levels.
Mental Benefits of Playing Golf
Golf can provide you with some of your recommended exercise for the week, and it can improve your mental health too. Here are the most important mental health benefits golf can provide.
The importance of mental health cannot be underestimated, and more people are coming around to the fact that stress has serious negative effects on all aspects of life. Golf is relatively easy to learn, but mastering it takes time, focus and analysis of your technique. This combination of easily-accessible fun with the effort of mastery stimulates the mind and can provide a healthy way to temporarily take your mind off of stress and negativity.
The mental health benefits golf offers are significant. The tranquil setting and sole focus on the ball and swing can be extremely calming for people who normally suffer from anxiety. The therapeutic effects are so strong that many combat veterans find golf a useful tool in fighting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In 2014, the program PGA HOPE began offering six-week golfing courses free to military veterans. It was so successful that it operates in more than 80 locations in the United States.
There is much to be said for a nice, solitary game of golf, but the idea of friendly competition is appealing to many golfers. Playing with or against another person in a round of golf can be an excellent way to make new friends or catch up with old ones.
Social interaction is a major component of good mental health, and the consequences of not getting enough socialization can be dire. Our desire for socialization tends to peak in adolescence, leaving many adults without enough company. As we age, we tend to socialize even less, making golf a great way to enjoy the company of others in a low-intensity environment where you have time to talk while you play.
Golf’s structure leads to sharper mental focus over time. There’s a lot to concentrate on, from your stance and swing to the number of strokes. As you improve your game, you’ll start thinking about using different strategies on different courses and become savvier about club types, too.
One landmark study revealed that a wandering mind can make you unhappy and the ability to focus on what you’re doing in the moment engages the mind for greater satisfaction. The multiple factors to analyze in golf give the mind plenty of material to sift through in the pursuit of the perfect game, making it an excellent way to keep your brain fit and focused for life.
Tee Time with Hallmark Golf
If you’re looking to enjoy some of the benefits golf has to offer in South Carolina, come to our Bluffton golf courses and see the difference of Hallmark Golf. Check out Hilton Head tee times for our Crescent Pointe or Eagle’s Point courses easily online and experience all the health benefits of Hilton Head golf courses for yourself.