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Is golf exercise?

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By Eduardo Gonzales, MD

Can you consider golf a form of exercise?

What are the health benefits of exercise? —alfred_ngg@gmail.com

For maintenance of good health, experts recommend that people should undertake aerobic exercise that consists of 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. This required physical activity can be achieved by walking 10,000 steps or two and a half to three miles a day. As per this definition, golf qualifies as exercise, provided of course that in playing the game, the golfer walks and doesn’t use a golf cart. To complete a round of golf, a golfer walks four to eight miles, more than enough to satisfy the required daily physical activity for health purposes.

golf exercise

What’s nice about golf is that it is fun—even for people who are not good at it—and never gets boring or tedious. What’s more, it can be played by people of all ages, even middle-aged and older adults.

Health benefits of exercise, in general

Exercise, such as a regular round of golf, is a major preventive measure against chronic diseases, which cause most premature deaths among adults.  Exercise helps prevent premature deaths because:

  • It lowers risk of developing coronary heart disease, the number one cause of heart attacks.
  • It increases blood levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or good cholesterol.
  • It reduces the risk of developing a stroke by as much as 80 percent.
  • It reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus by half; if one develops the disease anyway, exercise makes the disease easier to control by dietary and pharmacological means.
  • It decreases the risk of getting hypertension; among people who are already hypertensive, exercise significantly reduces the dose of the drugs that they require.
  • It lowers the risk of developing certain cancers, notably breast and the reproductive organs in females, and colon in both sexes.
  • It slows down the development of osteoporosis, an age-related condition, more pronounced in women, that is characterized by brittleness of bones.

Furthermore, regular exercise improves ones quality of life.

  • It helps in maintaining a desirable body weight.
  • It improves the functional capacity of people with certain forms of arthritis and reduces their need for pain killer and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • It enhances sleep quality.
  • It eases stress and reduces depression and anxiety.
  • It enhances mood, self-esteem, and promotes a person’s overall wellbeing.

Additional health benefits of golf

In addition to the multiple health benefits of exercise in general, golf has some unique benefits. A study showed that golfers have better lung function than peers who do not play the game. The same study also indicated that older golfers may have improved balance, muscle endurance, and function. There can also be mental health benefits associated with golf because it is played in green fields and open spaces. Golf also provides an opportunity to socialize, which arguably contributes to longevity.

Health risk of golf

Golf is a good form of exercise but it has its downside, too. Golfers are at risk of skin cancer from their exposure to the sun. Golfers are thus encouraged to wear protective clothing and use sunscreen.

Email inquiries on health matters to: medical_notes@yahoo.com

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