10 Reasons Golf Is The Healthiest Sport You Can Play
I love golf.
It’s definitely an addictive game.
You hit a good shot and it feels really good.
It might be one good shot out of 100, but that one shot keeps you coming back. And you’re forever trying to capture that feeling again for the rest of your golfing life.
There’s been a lot of talk about growing the game in recent years. Watch golf on TV and they’ll usually talk about growing the game.
Obviously that means getting more people interested and playing.
One area that’s always kind of struck me as odd was that those that golf don’t really talk about how health it is for those that play.
You won’t meet many people that say they want to be less healthy.
Most of us want to live a healthy life.
But the struggle is knowing how to live a healthy life.
I’m not saying that golf is the silver bullet for health, but it’s interesting how healthy it is and I don’t think many people, including golfers, realize it…
1. Walking 9 Holes Burns 721 Calories
Pretty crazy, right?
A lot of talk about working out and exercising is about calories.
Well, you could eat a Big Mac and a few fries and burn it all off 9 holes later if you walk.
Heck, you’ll even burn 411 calories if you play 9 holes while riding in a cart.
2. Sun Exposure Is Incredibly Good For You
The sun has been god for many communities.
When something is that powerful it’s not really surprising that it has physical and emotional benefits.
Yet Harvard said it was surprising to learn that sunbathers lived longer.
Studies have found that sun exposure:
- Improves the immune system
- Reduces cancer risk (including skin cancer)
- Improves skin health
What does this have to do with golf?
A 9-hole round on the course means about 90-150 minutes of sun exposure.
Oh, and more sun exposure also makes us happier.
3. Learning To Lose
Everybody gets a trophy!
Have you heard that Millennials don’t know how to lose with class?
It’s probably true to a degree. But maybe it’s been around for many generations. I don’t know.
The thing is that losing is an art. And if you’re looking for a way to learn how to lose then golf is the perfect game.
Golf is incredibly difficult. It’s a simple game (get the ball in the hole), but it’s not easy.
It’s a game that can’t be perfected. Watch the best players in the world and one day they’ll shoot 59 and the next they’ll shoot 72.
Even in the best rounds there are a few bad shots.
And even Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer of all time, only won about 24% of the time.
That’s a lot of losing.
Golf will teach you the art of losing with class. Golf is a great reflection of life.
In life, you’re not going to win all the time. In fact, you’re going to lose much more often than you win. If you don’t know how to deal with that you’re going to drive yourself crazy (while driving people away from you).
Golf teaches you the art of losing.
4. Movement Fixes The Spine & Brain
Did you know that the discs in your spine regenerate with movement?
It’s pretty cool.
There is a great exercise that can hydrate your discs and it also helps restore flow to your brain.
When I look at this video it reminds me of the golf swing.
Now, it’s true that the golf swing can hurt the back.
It seems that we’re now starting to learn where back pain comes from in the swing.
It’s kind of a sway back that an expert, Esther Gokhale, discusses in her work.
When done correctly, golf seems to help your spine and not damage it.
5. Golfing Barefoot Reduces Inflammation
Here’s a fun one.
Over the last several years we’ve started to realize the benefits of Grounding, which is just walking around barefoot outdoors.
It’s pretty cool.
I like to walk around barefoot in the summer (I live in Wisconsin).
The research says that grounding reduces inflammation, which is one of the biggest problems with our health today.
It might be a little frowned upon, but golfing barefoot feels really good. I’ve tried it a few times and I’m on the only one.
John Daly is a big fan.
You probably can’t do it on most golf courses, but there are some that will let you. And if you do get turned down just tell them that you’re trying to get those nutrients from the Earth.
This benefit is obviously kind of tongue-in-cheek, but the barefoot thing is starting to gain some momentum in the health industry.
6. Walking On Uneven Terrain Has Many Benefits
Humans were designed to walk. We’re starting to realize again the many benefits of walking.
Our ancestors walked a lot. They were mostly nomads. They walked often and for many reasons.
We saw earlier that walking just 9 holes on the golf course offers a great workout for burning calories. But there are more benefits to walking on the golf course than just burning calories.
Walking on sidewalks and roads is okay, but more studies are showing the value in walking on uneven surfaces and more natural surfaces.
Uneven surfaces are better for your joints. They help absorb the shock. And the uneven surfaces also test your muscles in many different ways. You’re not walking the same basic step every time. You’re taking short steps and long steps. You’re walking uphill and downhill and on sidehills.
There’s an old saying that golf is a good walk spoiled.
That’s tongue-in-cheek, but golf is a good walk. In fact, I know several people with spouses or friends that don’t golf, but that enjoy walking along while the other plays.
7. Fresh Air
When I was a kid my mom cracked down on my brother and me about spending too much time in front of the TV. I think we were pretty good about playing outside.
We played basketball in the driveway. We played football in the front yard. We fished. We rode our bikes. We did a lot of things outside.
In the wintertime I would even wander around the frozen lake for hours exploring the islands.
It turns out that fresh air really is great for us. Studies show that fresh air reduces stress, improves the immune system and provides great energy.
I’ll tell you something, I can feel that energy when I show up on the tee box at 6:30 AM on a cool June morning. It’s pretty cool to see the sun rising while breathing in that cool fresh air.
Some say golf is taking too long to play (4 hours for 18 holes). That is a long time, but that’s also a lot of great fresh air.
8. Better Eyesight
We’re starting to learn the effects of spending too much time both indoors and staring at screens like the TV, phone and computers.
It turns out that people are becoming nearsighted at a higher rate than ever. The cause seems to be the lack of time spent outdoors.
The good news is that more time outside looking at things at various distances can help.
Golf is a great sport for your eyesight. You have to be able to pick a target 250+ yards away when you’re teeing off to hit your drive and a few minutes later you have to key in on the intricacies of the green in order to make a putt.
Here’s another key. Let your eyes soak in the sun. Avoid those sunglasses even though they look cool.
It’s long been believed that golf is a great way to meet and connect with others.
I read the book by businessman Alex Spanos. He loved golf and would often go to courses and join up with people.
A normal round of golf includes four people. If you’re alone it can be great to pair up with a group that only has two or three people.
Spanos was warming up on the driving range one time when he was paired with another group. That group included Bob Hope. The two became lifelong friends after that first meeting on the course.
Here is an interesting survey about how golf can positively impact our ability to connect with others.
“Only” 55% of the IT professionals said that golf had helped their careers. The article kind of skews that as low, but that seems pretty high to me.
I guess it’s low when they compare it to the 73% of business executives that say golf has been positive. And 93% of sales professionals say that golf has been positive for their careers.
In just about every sport there is an incentive to cheat.
There are referees that call penalties and fouls and infractions. Thus, players are enticed to try and find an edge. They’re encouraged to cheat because it’s the ref’s job to call the infraction.
Golf is completely different.
Players are expected to call infractions on themselves. And if you are caught cheating you are shamed by other golfers. It’s the cardinal sin to cheat in golf.
So players are encouraged to play the game with the highest character possible. It’s not uncommon for professionals to call penalties on themselves in situations where the penalty is not 100%.
There are rules officials in professional golf, but they’re there to mostly aid the players in fully understanding the rules.
Calling penalties on oneself is one of the most unique things about golf. You can be playing alone and you can do something to skirt the rules. But you’re only cheating yourself.
Golf is incredible for teaching character.
I’m obviously a fan of golf. I’ve been playing for as long as I can remember. I’m sure I had those little plastic clubs and balls when I was a kid.
I really remember becoming obsessed with it around high school. It was my goal to make the high school team even though I wasn’t very good.
Today, golf is something I still enjoy. It’s a game that you are always trying to improve at. It’s a great way to meet new people and to stay connected with people you already know.
And it turns out that the game is pretty good for your health too.