Despite its creation in Scotland, golf has become an incredibly popular pastime for millions of Americans for decades, and remains so today. Around 32 million people participate in the sport both on and off the course, according to the National Golf Foundation. Whether with a business partner or your loved one, playing golf can make a nice day outdoors, especially with a little competition thrown into the mix.

Beyond a simple hobby, golf presents its practitioners a host of health benefits, boosting the mind and body. Golfing is, after all, a sport. It may seem too leisurely to do much good, but it’s been proven that at least warming up before teeing off can help your game. So, what are the health benefits of golf?

Avoiding Injuries

Despite golf’s rightful reputation as a low impact exercise that’s great for seniors, it’s still possible to hurt yourself.

First and foremost, before starting any new sport or exercise, you’ll want to make sure you’re up for it. Despite golf’s rightful reputation as a low impact exercise that’s great for seniors, it’s still possible to hurt yourself. A bad golf swing can injure your back and joints. This can make warming up and stretching important to avoiding getting injured in the middle of the best game of your life. It can also make taking lessons when you’re first getting started a good idea, not to mention learning golf course etiquette. Check with your doctor to make sure you can handle 9 or 18 holes.

Exercise

The best way to benefit from golfing is to ditch the golf cart. That’s right, get up and walk from hole to hole! When you’re riding in a cart, it’s easy to underestimate how large a golf course is. Generally, the distance from hole to hole is between 5,000 to 7,000 yards. That’s nearly the five miles (or 10,000 steps) that’s popularly suggested people take each day. Keep in mind, this isn’t just a meandering stroll, either. You’ll be lugging around your club bag, too! This added weight ups the calorie-burning benefit of your golf outing.

When you’re riding in a cart, it’s easy to underestimate how large a golf course is. Generally, the distance from hole to hole is between 5,000 to 7,000 yards.

Possibly due to the popularity of the sport, many of the different facets of golfing have been thoroughly researched — from its business effects to its clinical implications. Others have focused specifically on the aerobic and health bonuses of the sport. Specifically, one study took a group of 55 participants and asked them to golf two to three times a week for 20 weeks. After that period, the researchers found the participants lost around an inch from their waistline and improved their body fat and cholesterol levels.

Another group who reviewed nearly 5,000 golf studies found the benefits of golf are much more wide-ranging than even that. They found that golfing may help combat heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and stroke. Additionally, they reported golfers tend to live longer than non-golfers. So, golfing can help you lose weight, stay healthier, and live longer. But the benefits don’t stop there!

Reduced Stress and Other Mental Benefits

See, the mental and emotional qualities of golfing also have a hand in the longevity of golfers’ lives. There are, of course, several factors to this, but the primary one is the relaxation that golfing brings to many seniors. The image of the frustrated golfer throwing a tantrum is perhaps overblown. For most golfers, playing is the most relaxing part of their day. In fact, relaxing is vital to playing well!

The mental and emotional qualities of golfing also have a hand in the longevity of golfers’ lives.

Depending on which you prefer, golfing can be both a social sport, with average groups being two or four golfers, or a solitary undertaking, if you’d like the time to clear your head or unwind. Golfing as a social gathering is a great benefit for seniors, since isolation is dangerous for them. Isolation isn’t the only mental condition golfing combats. That review of 5,000 studies also linked golfing with reduced risk of several emotional conditions, like depression, anxiety and dementia.

Ultimately, the most significant way that golfing helps seniors is that it provides them with an easy way to get up and moving. Golfing is a sport and exercise, yes. But it’s also low impact exercise that spreads the exercise out over the day. Moreover, it’s a non-contact sport, which many golfers are quite happy for. These two aspects combined make it easy for the out-of-shape and in-shape alike to enjoy.

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Because golf is so approachable, physically, it’s great for people who may otherwise be inactive in their day-to-day lives. This makes it a valuable option for seniors, since any exercise is better than no exercise.

Further Reading

Fix.com — Golf and Wellness [Infographic]