Golf is well known for its many health benefits. Below we will outline several health benefits that golfers enjoy, as well as links to several recent studies on the health benefits of golf.
Golf Is Great For Your Heart
Studies have shown that walking 30 minutes per day can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 35% (source). In an average round of 18 hole golf, players walk over 10,000 steps, which roughly equates to 5 miles and about 2 hours of walking.
A study published in February 2020 indicates that playing golf at least once a month may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by providing regular exercise and stress relief. In the decade-long study researchers found that golfers had a death rate of 15.1% compared to 24.6% among non-golfers. You can read the study here: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/str.51.suppl_1.TP172.
Rest Easy At Night
Golf can be a healthy remedy for those suffering from insomnia. Playing golf on a regular basis creates a healthy routine that makes it easier for your brain to shut down when it’s time to sleep at night. Golf can also take up to 4 hours to complete 18 holes which is tiring (one of the secrets of getting a good night’s sleep is being properly tired at bedtime).
A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in December 2013 also indicated that getting proper sleep can improve your game. In the study 12 golfers who suffered from sleep apnea were compared with 12 similarly skilled men in a control group. After receiving treatment for their sleep apnea, the 12 golfers saw their handicap improve by 11% on average when retested 6 months later. The control group saw no change to their handicap. View the following link to read more about the study: https://www.aastweb.org/blog/sleep-and-golf-how-sleeping-improves-your-performance-to-a-tee.
Golf is an open-air sport that is surrounded by nature. With plenty of access to fresh air and Vitamin D, endorphin and serotonin levels are improved significantly, which helps with reducing stress and anxiety while also improving mood.
Playing golf with your friends is also a wonderful way to disconnect from the stress of everyday life while enjoying the pleasing greenery and fresh air which can calm the mind, helping with focus and mental relaxation. As golf is a game where you are usually battling against yourself, it can be therapeutic to train your mind to relax and not to worry about work, as only your golf game matters when you’re on the links.
One 2014 study published in Frontiers in Physiology has shown that regular exercise resulted in greater emotional resilience to stress. Golfing not only provides an outlet for stress, it can also help you to stay positive when stress arrives when you’re off the course. You can read more about the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013452/.
Stimulates Your Mind
The brain is a muscle and like all the muscles it needs to exercise to function properly. Playing golf helps you to maintain mental alertness as you weigh the risk to reward in each shot, tally your scores and engage in psychological warfare between you and your golf mates when there are bets being made. Golf is also a sport that is difficult to master, requiring you to constantly improve your game and gain new knowledge. Your brain is never on autopilot when you are on the course.
Ask any professional and they’ll tell you they are continuously looking for ways to improve their game. All this mental exercise increases blood flow to the brain, increasing nerve cell connections, and improving memory in the process. An excerpt from the 2013 book, “The Healthy Golfer: Lower your score, play injury-free, build fitness, and improve your game from the ground up” by Dr. Philip Maffetone goes into detail on studies of how golf and the brain mesh together. To read more about this click here: https://philmaffetone.com/your-brain-on-golf-an-excerpt/.
Walking a full course of 18 holes can help you burn around 1,200 calories – an excellent way to keep excess weight off. A golf swing is also a full body workout, involving major muscle groups like your arms, legs, back, abdomen, chest, and shoulders.
A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine indicated that golf can provide moderate intensity physical activity and is associated with physical health benefits that include improved cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic profiles, and improved wellness. You can read the study here: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/1/12.
In summary, playing golf can have significant impacts on your health including reduced stress, better sleep, improved heart health, more opportunities to exercise, and mental stimulation that can delay the effects of aging on the mind. With so many great reasons to golf, it’s no wonder that so many doctors and researchers are studying the effects that golfing can have on health. We encourage you to stay healthy and hit the course as soon as possible (while wearing the world’s most comfortable golf shoes, of course).