Are there Golf Health Benefits?

  • December 4, 2014
  • / By Tom

golf health benefitsGolf is usually used as a way to relax with friends and have a good time, but can it have added benefits of improved health and fitness?

While many people don’t think of golf as a calorie-melting workout, there actually are some significant benefits to all that time spent searching for your where your golf ball landed – if you are just a casual golfer like me – and can actually be rather strenuous exercise.

Even playing 9 holes while using a golf cart to get around can burn more than 400 calories for the golfer. If you are walking, the fitness benefits are even greater.

The actually amount of fitness benefits you are receiving depends on how you are spending your time on the green. 18 holes would obviously be more work than 9 holes, but you don’t necessarily have to play 18 to get a good workout.

Obviously, walking is better than driving a cart around if you are looking strictly at calorie benefits. Walking by itself obviously is good for your health, so adding clubs, by either carrying them or using a pull cart,  significantly boosts your workout.

What type of health and fitness benefits does golf have exactly, though? Neil Wolkodoff, director of the Center for Health and Sport Science at the Rose Medical Center in Denver, sought to find the exact benefits with an extensive study, according to Bill Pennington of the New York Times. The results were rather impressive.

  • 9 holes carrying clubs – 721 calories burned
  • 9 holes with pull cart – 718 calories burned
  • 9 holes using caddie – 621 calories burned
  • 9 holes using cart – 411 calories burned

Even going just nine holes has significant health benefits, according to Wolkodoff’s study. Walking with your bag of clubs or with a pull cart for nine holes has nearly the same caloric burn (721 calories while carrying the bag and 718 for the pull cart). Meanwhile, “walking with a caddie burned 621 calories for nine holes, and riding in a cart still burned 411 calories on average”, according to the Pennington article.

You can get a good guess of the amount of calories burned from this with 18 holes by simply doubling the numbers above. This information makes golf a very valuable sport for those looking for a casual calorie burn or simply a healthy way to spend time with friends. Clearly, the better option for your health is to walk, either with your bag of clubs or pull cart, rather than hopping in a cart.

There are many potential pitfalls to this argument, though, if you are looking to spend some time on the links. If you are looking to get out on the course in the heat of summer and want to receive the benefits of a good workout, without the negatives, be sure to follow these tips.

  1. Avoid the snacks – It can be easy to have bring different snacks to the course, or to purchase them while you are there. However, if you choose unhealthy snacks, all the goodness from your exercise can be erased quickly. If you plan to be out there for 18 holes, though, you may want to bring a small, healthy snack option. Focus on a solid protein option, rather than a sweet or salty snack.
  2. Choose water – It is not uncommon for a group of friends to get together and spend more time at the beer cart than actually golfing. Even just a few drinks can cancel out the good that the walking is doing for you. This doesn’t mean you can never have a drink while golfing, but just be smart about it if you are using this for the exercise.
  3. Avoid going to a sports bar after – After you are done, your friends may want to go to a sports bar for wings and drinks to catch a game on TV. While it is fine to enjoy time with your friends at these places, realize that it is easy to go well over 1,000 calories consumed or more in just a short time at a sports bar. If you carry your bags for 18 holes and then go and get loaded nachos, you probably aren’t going to be in better shape at the end of the day.

If you are golfing for fun, you don’t really have to worry about these tips. However, if you are looking at golf as a way to exercise and stay in shape, you will want to be careful with what you are doing on the course. Consuming lots of beer, hot dogs, and the like can quickly undo all of the calories you are burning from the golfing.

Golfing can be a fun way to spend time with friends and burn a few extra calories. If you are looking to make the most of your time on the links, make sure to follow these tips if you are looking for some serious golf health benefits.

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