5 Surprising Health Benefits of Playing Golf

Aug 30, 2016

Man playing golf

Saying golf is fun is like saying the sky is blue. But did you also know that studies show it could be one of the healthiest physical activities you can do? A lot of people who aren't familiar with the game perceive it as a faux sport that people enjoy while drinking beer and riding in a cart, pausing only long enough to hit the occasional wayward shot.

The truth is that it's possible to get a great workout while playing golf if you play the game as it was meant to be played: on foot and with a golf bag across your back. The real benefits start to accrue when you carry your bag, walk 18 holes (or more) and do it often. (Of course, you should consult with your physician before taking on a new fitness routine or physical activity.)

Here are five health benefits of playing golf that may surprise you:

1. Burning Calories

Believe it or not, walking 18 holes and carrying your bag can help you burn as much as 1,500 to 2,000 calories, depending on the weather and the terrain of the course. Obviously a hillier track will work you out more, but even on a flatter layout, a round of golf is still a walk of some six or seven miles, with an added weight of a couple dozen pounds distributed across your back and shoulders.

2. Working Core Muscles

While walking with your bag, if you have good posture you'll be working out your core nicely as well.

3. Strengthening Your Heart

If you walk three to five 18-hole rounds of golf per week, you will be giving your heart the exercise it needs to perform at its peak.

4. Getting Vitamin D

Soaking up a few hours of sunlight (while applying an appropriate amount of sunscreen, of course) will help your Vitamin D levels. This helps with bone growth, heart health and keeps anxiety levels to a minimum (as long as you don't agonize excessively over your double-bogeys).

5. Mental Exercise

Golf is great for the mind. Every hole — especially a thoughtfully-designed one — is a puzzle. More often than not, golfers who try to use only brute force generally do not shoot the lowest scores. Just look at Jordan Spieth: he dissects golf courses and almost always misses shots in the least penal spots. Golf teaches golfers problem solving and keeps the mind sharp.

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