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Golf can be a good investment for the health. It is a game played on a large outdoor course, the object being to propel a small hard ball into a series of ‘holes’ with as few strokes as possible, using a variety of wood or iron-tipped sticks or golf club.

Golf can be a good investment for the health

Scientists from Sweden claim death rate for golfers is 40 per cent lower than for other people of the same sex, age and socioeconomic status, which correspond to a 5 year increase in life expectancy. Golfers with a low handicap (i.e. the best golfers) are the safest.

Golf and impact on health

It is a well-known fact that exercise is good for the health, but the expected health gains of particular activities are still largely unknown. A team of researchers from Karolinska Institute has now presented a study of the health effects of golf a low-intensity form of exercise. The study shows that golf has beneficial health effects. The death rate amongst golfers is 40 per cent lower than the rest of the population, which equates to an increased life expectancy of five years.
 
There are several aspects of the game that are proved to be good for the health. According to the researcher, a round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometers and that is known to be good for the health. People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help.The study does not rule out that other factors than the actual playing, such as a generally healthy lifestyle, are also behind the lower death rate observed amongst golfers. However, the researchers believe it is likely that the playing of the game in itself has a significant impact on health.

Benefits of golf

  • Golf and exercise
Golf is a game that burns up calories, reduces cholesterol and can reduce stress. It is great for keeping you in trim. Everyone knows that walking is the most fundamental of all exercise programs. So it makes sense that walking a golf course would be considered good for you. Every round that’s played makes one walk between four and eight miles, and burns around a thousand calories.
  • Cardiovascular work out
Brisk walking is known to increase cardiovascular capacity, improve your lung capacity and your blood flow. When playing golf, heart rate pumps away at between 90 and 120 beats per minute. This low intensity workout is perfect for gently burning off fat. Even the simple act of swinging club or bending down to place a ball on its tee or pick up a ball helps keep joints supple and muscle groups in trim.
  • Mental health
Playing golf is not just physically good, but it also releases powerful, natural, mood enhancing drugs called endorphins into the bloodstream. It offers a mental challenge. Counting endless shots, working out the Stableford score or just calculating yardages and club selection are all mental exercises.
  • Find new friends
Golf is a social game, a chance to get to know someone better, that's why so many business people play golf. A round of golf can take around four hours where individual differences disappear as playing the game becomes the common focus. Most golfers play with family or friends but most are happy to join up with a single golfer to make a three or four ball group. Also, the etiquette and rules of golf encourage care and respect of others and the course.
  • Sleep better
Study after study has shown that regular exercise increases the positives that sleep brings. You’ll fall asleep faster and remain in a deep sleep for a longer period of time with regular exercise, which includes activities like golf. Sleep is important because it allows time for your muscles to repair themselves. Playing a round of golf by day will likely increase the quality of your restfulness by night.
  • A great leveler
Golf is a great leveler - its handicapping system is designed in such a way that enables the beginner to play competitively against the highly skilled. There are not many sports where one can compete fairly against the super star!
  • Good for the course
Walking a golf course is a good thing to do for the sake of the course itself - it saves wear-and-tear and damage to sensitive areas, which creates a better golfing environment.

Suggestions for people not yet in shape

  • Walk alternate holes during a round, so that by the end of your round you've walked nine holes.
  • Walk one set of nines, ride the other.
  • If you are at a course that requires carts, walk down the fairway to your ball while your partner brings the cart up.
  • If playing with a partner who rides, ride only on the cart path and walk to and from the cart to your ball on every hole.

Advice for avoiding injuries:

  1. Stretch at least three times a week, paying particular attention to your back, shoulders, and arms. Be sure to warm-up for 10-15 minutes before play. 
  2. Take lessons. Good technique is your best defense against injuries.
  3. Use good equipment including shoes, socks, gloves, and clothing.
  4. Spot problems early and treat them aggressively. Ice down aching tissues directly after playing. Use the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation) approach to treat more serious problems, and get help from a professional if you don't improve promptly.

Conclusion

Golf provides a stimulating challenge combined with a healthy walk in pleasant surroundings and can be played by people of all abilities and ages. Playing golf regularly can help you stay fit, improve muscle tone and endurance, and lose weight and body fat.Also, it is a very social and enjoyable sport. While you compete against others, you can also compete with yourself to better your previous best score.

  • www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news-1/Golf-prolongs-life-20683
  • www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?CONTENT_ITEM_ID=21967&CONTENT_ITEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=12438&EXPAND=1411
  • golf.about.com/cs/golffitness/a/walkinggolf.htm
  • www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Golf_the_health_benefits?OpenDocument