Gone Golfing

It’s summer time in Wisconsin which means many of us will be enjoying the beautiful local golf courses. There are actually many health benefits to the game of golf. Playing golf regularly can help a person stay fit, improve muscle tone and endurance, and lose weight and body fat. But, the game of golf also has some additional health benefits. Playing a round of golf has been proven to release endorphins, a powerful, natural, mood enhancer from our brain. Studies also show that golf delays the onset of dementia by stimulating blood circulation in the brain along with improving connections between nerve cells. Golf also challenges the mind in terms of strategy, coordination and concentration. 

A Swedish study on the health benefits of golf found that people who play the game on a regular basis have a 40 percent lower mortality rate among their peers, which equals a five year increase in life expectancy. Getting regular daytime activity generally means a person will fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night. Golf is a great way of staying active during the day. 

A typical game of golf, if the course is walked, can average walking about six miles, which means a person can burn approximately 1400 calories during a round. Socialization is also a large health benefit to the game of golf. As they say, a bad day on the golf course is still better than a good day at work!  Research shows that people who maintain their social network and support systems do better under stress, and cholesterol levels decrease with human companionship. Golf provides opportunities to meet new people and helps develop a sense of community connectedness. 

Golf is typically a leisure sport, however, just like any other sport, common injuries can occur.  Causes of injury generally include overuse, incorrect technique and aggravation of a previous injury.  Here are some tips to avoid golf injuries:
 
  • Warm and stretch before playing. Pay particular attention to the back, shoulders and arms. 
  • Take lessons. Good technique is the best defense against injury.
  • Use good equipment. Wear appropriate clothing such as shoes, socks and gloves.
  • Consider having golf equipment professionally fitted before purchase.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your game.
  • Lift and carry clubs safely.
  • Stop playing if an injury occurs.
Like any other sport, a tailored exercise program that focuses on muscles most utilized by the golfer can be very beneficial. For golf, attention should be given to core strength and flexibility, and flexibility training for the hips and thoracic spine to increase range of motion. Examples of beneficial exercises include standing wood chop, lunges, front plank and side planks. Just like any other fitness program, consistency with the exercises is key. Begin to incorporate a regular-regimen of these sport specific exercises and flexibility exercises into your daily workout routine and you should begin to see performance improvements shortly.