Health Benefits of Golf

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on July 19, 2022
5 min read

Golf is an outdoor sport that’s popular in several countries. In this article, we look at some of the health benefits of golf.

Around 55 million people play golf in more than 200 countries. There are more than 32,000 golf courses around the world where golf is played as a recreational activity or as a serious profession. 

Some joke that those who don’t play golf well get more out of the sport than others who play it well. What this means is that people who aren’t as fluent in golf typically play for a longer time, and this leads to more physical activity.

There’s a general belief that golf as a sport is not as physically demanding as others, so much so that many people are hard-pressed to call it a “sport.” However, even if it is slow-paced, there are several health benefits of playing golf.

There’s a lot of research being done on the positive effects of regularly playing sports, and some of this research suggests that golf may help improve your heart health.

Research has linked playing golf to improvements in known risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as lipid and insulin- glucose levels, body composition, and physical inactivity. Golf is also known to give much-needed exercise to people who are undergoing cardiac and stroke rehabilitation.

Regularly playing golf also improves lung function, especially in older adults, and this aids the optimum functioning of the heart.

Another aspect that may contribute to improved heart health is that a typical 18-hole golf course is large. This generally means that by the time you’ve completed the entire course, you would’ve walked anywhere between four to five miles.

This is enough for the oft-mentioned daily fitness goal of 10,000 steps that many people aspire for today.

A study that involved more than 300,000 participants from Scandinavian nations found that those who regularly played golf lived five years longer than others who did not play golf. These results were the same irrespective of the people’s age, gender, or socioeconomic status.

The study found that golfers had a 40% lower mortality rate as compared to non-golfers.

Walking around the golf course also has other advantages. These courses are typically lush green and are lined with trees that make you feel close to nature. Many golf courses also have different terrains that include rolling hills, wide plateaus, and water bodies such as ponds.

Animals and birds are also a common sight on several golf courses. Walking during the game also helps you strategize better, think more about the game, and become a better player, which could add to your technique repertoire.

Many players who started out playing golf as a simple recreational activity have shared that the intellectual challenges that the game offers have made them fall in love with it and helped them improve their game by leaps and bounds.

A study presented at the International Stroke Conference organized by the American Stroke Association suggested that playing golf regularly was linked to a lower risk of death. Playing golf regularly referred, in this study, to playing at least once a month.

The study involved around 5,900 adults who were above the age of 65, with an average age of 72. The study was carried out over 10 years. During this time, all the participants were medically evaluated once a year and had clinic visits every six months. The study did not take into account whether the players who participated walked or used a golf cart to move from one place to another on the golf course.

The study compared the death rates of golfers to non-golfers and found that the death rate in those who played golf regularly was 15.1%, as compared to 24.6% in those who did not play golf.

Doctors recommend regular exercise for people of all ages. This keeps the muscles working and improves blood circulation, all of which are important indicators of good health.

After a certain age, it becomes difficult to participate in certain sports such as basketball and tennis because of the level of fitness that calls for and the strain it puts on your body, but golf is a sport that can be played well into your old age.

Even if you’re unable to walk the entire course to cover the 18 holes, playing golf uses specific muscles such as your core and upper body when you hit the balls.

A good swing of the golf club also needs stability, and doing it regularly improves your sense of balance. This is because when you swing the golf club, your upper torso rotates and shifts your weight.

Repeating this motion helps you sway in the correct form and improves your upper body leverage. Before you start playing golf, it’s also important to stretch your muscles. Doing this regularly keeps your muscles in good shape.

Many elderly people who play golf regularly have repeatedly endorsed the benefits that they have experienced by playing the sport.

Although golf is an individual sport, playing it usually involves interacting with peers who have a keen interest in the game. In addition to the physical benefits, the game also has other merits. It:

  • Reduces stress due to physical activity and the joy of being close to nature
  • Is an excellent way to stay in touch with friends
  • Improves social interactions by bringing together people who have a shared interest
  • Develops a sense of bonding with your community
  • Helps you retain a sense of achievement by becoming better at something that you enjoy doing
  • Actively engages your body and mind

If you’re planning to start playing golf to enjoy its many physical and mental health benefits, a good way to begin would be to enroll in lessons at your nearest course to get some golf tips. This will help you understand the fundamentals of the game.

You can also start playing with friends who share similar interests, rent a few golf clubs, and hit the nearest course to enjoy the sport and a day under the sun.