Play Golf to Enhance Your Health & Wellness

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The other day, my 10-year-old daughter, was reading from a library book filled with short statements such as July 15th is “Cow Appreciation Day,” or March 13th is the start of “National Procrastination Week.” And finally, could we forget Orville Redenbacher’s favorite, October 18th, the start of “National Popcorn Poppin’ Month.” I have to admit, many of these had me stupefied, if not laughing out loud, when I first heard them.

Healthy Benefits of Golf

The World Golf Foundation and Golf 20/20 commissioned The Walker Research Group to identify and report on the body of literature pertaining to the health and wellness benefits of golf participation. Below are the key findings and health-related benefits:

• A walked 18-hole round, carrying a bag or using a hand/pull cart, is approximately equal to a 5-mile walk.

• The total caloric expenditure for an 18-hole round is approximately 2,000 calories for walking while carrying clubs and 1,300 calories when riding in a cart.

• Since walking is bio-mechanically more efficient than running, playing an 18-hole round of golf walking is roughly equivalent to a 3.5 to 4-mile run.

• When walking 18-holes of golf, blood glucose levels fall by up to 20% for the young, 10% for the middle-aged, and 30% for the elderly players, and body weight is slightly reduced for all groups.

• Repeated golf practice enhances balance control and confidence among all age ranges.

• Older golfers tend to have better static and dynamic balance control and confidence than non-golfing older, healthy adults.

• Regardless of handicap, gender, or course played, golfers exceed 10,000 steps during a typical round of golf – which meets the guideline for exercise recommended by most medical and clinical physicians.

In all seriousness, the month of May is “National Health & Wellness Month.” This coincides nicely with The PGA of America’s designation for May as “Welcome to Golf Month.” For me, and for many of us, who’ve grown up in our “fast food, fast moving…but not physically moving all that much” culture, Health & Wellness is no laughing matter.

Thanks to “First World” problems like obesity, diabetes and our digital culture (where digital effort often seems to supersede physical effort and productivity,) many experts believe the children of Generations X & Y will be the first generation in a very long time not to live longer than their parents. Question: Does that hit you like it hits me?

One antidote to these problems, perhaps the one most of us pass over the fastest, is walking with a purpose for our health and wellness. Notice, I said “with a purpose,” not moseying, sashaying or wandering. Walking with a purpose requires effort, balance and elevates the heart rate. In other words, it’s walking that is good for us.

The next layer of this question is whether to walk or not, it’s where should I walk? Obvious answers might be the sidewalk, the nearest mall or a nature trail. I would like to add my personal favorite… the golf course. A golf course is where most of the best attributes of walking come together in a beautiful blend. Peace, beauty, vistas, flora, fauna and fresh air all come together in a fairly safe environment that can be enjoyed alone or (best of all) with others.

As a golfer, you need not be an expert or even what you consider “good.” Golf is game that can be played by people of all body types, nearly any age and certainly varied athletic abilities. As the ultimate green-space setting, a golf course just might be the best place to get in the 10,000 steps per day, (the equivalent of 18-holes or five miles) most often recommended by health and fitness experts. Plus, on a golf course, the golfer is presented with a variety of conditions, where balance, foot strength and the lower body is pushed to perform throughout the round of golf.

There are other great benefits to playing golf as a game and walking the golf course besides what I mentioned above. Additional physical and mental health benefits to the game include:

  • Sunshine: When you are out playing a game of golf on a beautiful day, you get an adequate dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for building strong bones and good overall health. Many of us in the PNW are deprived in this area.
  • Sleep: People who exercise and work out are proven to sleep better at night. Exercise helps wear off excess energy, helps you fall asleep faster, and helps you stay asleep through the night.
  • Social: Golf is an entertaining sport that you can enjoy with your family and friends. The game is a way to bond with others and build connections with new friends. There is one key rule to add here: Laughing Out Loud may be the very best medicine, and there’s no doubt it’s very good for you. But it’s best to have an understanding with your fellow golfers like, "It’s okay to LOL at me, if I can LOL at you."

To learn more about how to get involved yourself, or help get a friend, family member or business colleague started on a road to better Health & Wellness through playing (and walking) on the golf course, please visit www.getgolfready.com and enter your zipcode to find out more about the special, (and reasonably priced) new to golf programs available for adults, for juniors and for families. Several local public access facilities are offering specially designed GET GOLF READY class sessions this summer. They’re reasonably priced, low-stress and easy to register for…take my word for it, try GET GOLF READY this summer, you’ll be glad you did now AND for a lifetime.