Every year, 24 million Americans play a whopping 465 million rounds of golf. That’s an average of 20 rounds per player, each year!
Granted, it may not be as big as football in the U.S., but it’s still huge, and even attracts the interest of non-players. In fact, back in 2017, 14.9 million nongolfers said they’re “very interested” in the sport. That’s a 2.1 million increase from the year before.
The many health benefits of golf are some of the top reasons people love this sport. It’s an awesome calorie-burner, a happiness-inducer, and even pain-reliever. Plus, it gives you a perfect reason to go on holiday.
But how exactly does playing golf benefit your brain and body?
We’ll give you the lowdown, so be sure to keep reading!
1. A Great Way to Burn Calories
This may surprise you, but playing golf can actually burn through as much as 2,000 calories. That applies to golfers who only walk (no cart use at all) while playing an 18-hole course. But even if you ride a cart, you can still end up walking two miles and burning 1,300 calories.
So, if you’re looking to burn calories and not starve along the way, swing those clubs as much as you can.
2. Improved Circulation for Better Heart Health
Aside from the calories burned through golfing, another benefit is better heart health.
Remember, all those movements you make (from swinging to walking) boosts circulation. Better circulation means more oxygen-containing blood flows to your heart.
Improved blood flow to the heart also helps bring down risks of coronary heart disease. If you play enough golf, you may even see a drop in your cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
3. Diabetes Prevention and Maintenance
Are you one of the 100 million Americans out there with diabetes or pre-diabetes? Then golf may be the sport you need to keep your sugar levels in check.
In fact, regular golfing can help lower the risk for type 2 diabetes as well. It’s best to walk as much as you can though so that you can really get that blood flowing. This also boosts the efficiency of your insulin.
4. Can Help Reduce Pain
Since golf is a form of exercise, it triggers your body to produce feel-good hormones. These include endorphins, which interact with brain receptors like the way morphine does. So, aside from triggering emotions like happiness, it can also make you feel less pain.
But what if you have a condition, like arthritis, that make moving a lot more painful? Don’t worry: Golf still falls under the “low-impact” type of physical activity.
Meaning, it stretches your ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints, but it’s not as harsh as other sports.
In fact, those motions from golf movements and poses can help keep your joints flexible. The more you move (remember to be gentle though!), the better you’ll be able to manage your pain.
5. Can Lower Your Stress Levels
Speaking of happiness, a recent study found that mental and emotional health in the U.S. is on the decline. Higher levels of stress, whether due to work or money issues, are some of the top reasons.
If you’re stressed out, exercising or participating in sports — like golf — can help. Again, this has much to do with your body producing more of those feel-good chemicals. With golf, you’ll feel those stress levels ebb away with every huge swing you take.
6. Can Ease Anxiety
Researchers have long since confirmed that regular physical activity decreases anxiety symptoms. Because golf requires you to exert physical effort, then it may also help ease anxiety.
Think about it. People playing golf concentrate on making all their games a hole-in-one. Since the brain zeroes in on one goal, there’s less space in the mind for those depressive thoughts.
7. Sharpens Your Mental Faculties
To get that ball in the hole, you need to factor in the wind, slope, and lie among many other factors. You need to visualize how the wind will carry the ball into which direction.
You also have to factor in the possible behaviors of the ball based on the game’s current conditions. Aside from the weather, there’s foot placement, spin, as well as terrain or course.
With all these variables, you need to come up with a strategy right there and then to win. That takes a lot of concentration and focus, which is why, to many people, golf is the most difficult sport. But that’s exactly how and why golf can help improve your brain health.
8. An Awesome Reason to Travel
If you never thought about traveling outside of the country for a sport, golf gives you a very good reason to do that. From Canada to the United Kingdom to Europe, people from all over the world are fans of the sport.
But how does traveling help your health anyway?
Much like exercise, traveling is also a great stress-buster, making you feel happier. The change in environment lets you forget the things you stress about for a bit. This then brings your cortisol (stress hormone) levels down.
With less stress comes a calmer, more contented mind. As a bonus, this relaxed phase gives you the chance to think of and reflect on your future goals.
9. Allows You to Enjoy Better Sleep
All the walking and calorie-burning you’ll do when you play golf will tire you out. That translates to falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and sleeping better. You’ll wake up refreshed, with a much clearer mind, and ready to take on the day’s challenges.
Pick Up those Clubs to Start Enjoying the Many Health Benefits of Golf
These are only nine of the other health benefits of golf, but they should be enough to make you want to pick up the sport.
Besides, it’s not only for the adults — you could start learning with your kids too! That means they also get to enjoy the sport’s benefits while you get to spend some quality family time with them.
Want more life hacks for a happier, healthier you? Then be sure to check out the other guides we have in our blog’s Health section!