, , ,

This week I started golf lessons. I’m not a beginner. I’ve actually started playing the game 15 years ago while living in picturesque Connecticut. Back then, I bought my first set of clubs, took lessons from a pro and off I went. I immediately fell in love with the sport and was hooked. Soon I was playing up to four times a week on four different courses. I played rain or shine, joined a ladies league and carried my clubs with me everywhere I went in the trunk of my car, just in case I decided to hit the range or play an unexpected round.

Just like every now and then I hire physical trainers to change up my gym routines or to focus on certain areas, I also like to work with a golf pro to improve my swing and my game. No longer living in Connecticut, I don’t come close to the amount of time I use to put into the game. With numerous days between rounds, I feel I’m a bit off my game and losing my swinging touch. So now I’m back to a pro to hopefully correct any bad habits I may have developed and to sharpen my game all around.

Golf is a very popular sport worldwide and can be played at all ages. First invented on the coast of Scotland in the 15th century, there are over 50 million golfers in the world, more than 11,000 golf courses in just North America and nearly 32,000 courses found all over the world. Over 22% of the players are female, including Kathy Whitworth who has won 88 professional tournaments during her amazing career—more than any other male or female golfer in history.

While golf may seem more leisure and strategic than an exerted workout, there are some undeniable health benefits to playing a round. It is a form of physical exercise and it does use muscles in the entire body. And it can provide benefits ranging from improved circulation to improved flexibility and better balance.

Golf movements consist of walking, swinging, squatting, twisting, bending and lifting. Golfers can experience increased strength, mobility, hand-eye coordination and range of motion. The sport is also good for weight control if you choose to skip the cart and pass on the cold beverages. And a long four-hour-day on the course can lead way to a great night’s sleep. The following are additional benefits.

Cardio. You can get a good cardiovascular workout when walking an entire golf course. While buzzing around in one those carts is great fun, it also takes away a great opportunity from working up a good sweat. Walking is a good low-impact cardiovascular activity that gets the heart pumping. Research shows walking several miles around a varied terrain course has the same health benefits of a full 45-minute fitness class.

Strength. Carrying your bag of clubs of approximately 30 pounds is a simply way to add resistance training and muscle strengthening while walking the 18 holes. It will help to strengthen your core, arms, legs and shoulders and improve your overall muscle mass. Swinging your clubs will also help to tone up those very same muscles.

Metabolism. Walking a course will help to burn fat, improve your good cholesterol levels and speed up your metabolism. It’s been noted that a round of golf burns about 300 calories per hour in a 150 pound individual while carrying clubs, 230 calories when riding the cart and 200 calories when just hitting balls at a driving range.

Vitamin D. Playing out in the sun for a few hours has the benefit of soaking up the valuable Vitamin D from the sun without a second thought. Vitamin D is essential for having strong bones, regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, and helping to control the growth of skin cells.

Additionally, golf is a great stress reliever and helps to strengthen your eye-hand coordination. Risk of an injury is low, but like any other sport you should still warm up and stretch before playing, especially your back, shoulders and arms. Lift and carry clubs safely and remember to wear sun protection. Stay hydrated; drink water before, during and after your game. And the best part? Just having fun with a group of friends!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.