Anytime I talk up the health benefits of playing golf, I am often met with chuckles or sideways glances. "It's just golf! You ride around in a cart and walk a few yards...how hard can it be?" Those people are usually not golfers. Avid golfers will likely report that golf has in fact been great for their health, especially those of an advanced age. It's true - playing a round of golf will never be confused with running a marathon. Consider the following points, however, to get a better picture of the positive effect golf does have on the millions who play the game on a regular basis.
Walking. Walking gets a bad rap because it doesn't induce a big sweat and breathlessness. But did you know that from a calorie burn perspective, it doesn't matter if you run or walk the distance? That's right - whether you walk five miles during a round of golf, or run five miles on a track, the calorie burn is the same. Why dont you go for a jog with your jogging stroller with your child/grandchild etc, it's great fitness.
Muscle Maintenance. During a golf swing, many muscles you didn't even know you had spring into action. Your hands, forearms, shoulders, back, legs, and more are all engaged to make your swing as good as it can be. Repeat this motion around 100 times including warming up before the round, and you've got a nice all around body workout. You won't be bulking up from golf anytime soon, but it does an excellent job of keeping those muscles toned and healthy.
Fresh Air. Being in the outdoors is good for not only physical health, but mental health as well. In a world that is becoming more sedentary by the day, good ol' fashioned fresh air can feel great in your lungs. Spending time outdoors is known to fight depression and improve your overall mood. That sure sounds healthy to me.
Setting Goals. This point applies more specifically to older people, but can be relevant for anyone. A great way to stay healthy is to have goals set for yourself and then work hard to achieve them. Health tends to suffer when we become satisfied with our lives as they are and stop striving to improve. Golf is a lifelong quest to swing better, putt better, and score better. No one has ever played a perfect round, and no one ever will. The endless motivation that comes from the game itself is great for your health.
Motivation. In line with the last point, golf can serve as motivation to keep you moving in the rest of your workout routine. If you are striving to play better golf, keeping in good physical condition is crucial. Many avid golfers find visions of birdies strong enough to keep them pushing through those last few minutes on the treadmill. Even when you are miles from a course, golf can keep you going.
Being active in general is good for your health. When golf is your activity, you will be more likely to stick with it over time because it is simply a great, and addictive, game. Golf can stick with you the rest of your life, and will more than pay back whatever effort you decide to put into it. Next time someone gives you a hard time for spending all day on the course, tell them you are doing it for your health!