Mark Twain said golf was a “Good walk spoiled.”
However, for most of us, it’s probably the good walk which is a vital part of maintaining a healthy life as we age.
Current estimates indicate that physical inactivity is responsible for about 3 to 5 million deaths worldwide each year. This estimate is in large part due to the link between a sedentary lifestyle and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Golf is an economic driver delivering around $1.2 billion in social, health and community benefits annually to NSW and the ACT.
To find out more, please visit: The Economic Driver which is Golf in NSW
A simple way to prevent the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle is to get out regularly and undertake moderate intensity activity – that’s about 10,000 steps a day. The good news for golfers is the sport is classified as a moderate intensity activity, and usually requires about 14,000 steps to walk 18 holes.
Health Department guidelines recommend about 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for an adult – so guess what? A round of golf covers what you need to do to meet this level of physical activity and quickly pass the target of steps taken per day. You’ll be lowering your risk of developing chronic disease.
A 2008 study in Sweden which included over 300,000 golfers found that adults who regularly play golf have a lower mortality rate of 40% than the rest of the population. This lowered rate equates to about an extra five years of life expectancy compared to non-golfers. So the even better news for golfers – there’s more time to lower your handicap and enjoy the greatest sport of all.
Another study in Finland was looking at the health profile of golfers aged 48 – 64 years. It found that there was a significant improvement in aerobic performance, trunk muscle endurance & body composition including weight and waist circumference measurements in those who were encouraged to play golf two to three times weekly, compared to those who were not.
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A standard measure of health and well-being in ageing populations, those over 65 years, is the number or frequency of falls that do occur. Falls in the elderly are a significant cause of mortality and morbidity. An accepted indicator of risk of falling is balancing ability.
In 2011, a Hong Kong study published by the European Journal of Applied Physiology compared the balance ability of golfers and non-golfers aged in their 60s. The study found that golfers scored better on accepted measures of balance compared to the non-golfers, another way in which playing golf regularly can lead to improved physical capability and have a positive impact on health and well-being.
A comprehensive review of the health benefits of playing golf published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2017 reported further health benefits to those mentioned above. There was compelling evidence showing golfers having improved blood composition in terms of lipid profile, a key indicator of cardiovascular health, as well as satisfactory blood glucose levels.
FIVE TIPS TO STAY FIT AND ACTIVE IN GOLF
- Resistance-based training: Don’t be frightened. Get in the gym and lift a few weights. It will offset the loss of muscle mass and strength that comes with age. Sign up to a program with a professional fitness trainer.
- Incidental exercise is great: Walking while you are playing golf is great. Once a week, pass on the motorised cart and walk the course. You’ll be a lot healthier for it.
- Eat well, live well, play well: Include a piece of fruit in your playing routine. Choose a healthy snack at the half way house and leave the beers till after.
- Listen to your body: If you’re not feeling the best, take a rest. Exercise during or immediately prior to the onset of illnesses like the flu can make things worse. Take a break and give your body time to recover properly.
- Prevention is best: Research shows exercise can assist with preventing and managing conditions like diabetes, heart disease and many others as we age. So get out and play golf.
The researchers also found evidence for improved mental wellbeing in those who regularly played golf. The study found higher self-esteem and self-worth in sporting populations, including golfers, compared to non-sporting populations.
The impact is measured in not only the improved quality of life and life expectancy of the golfing population, but it can also be measured in the positive impact it has on society. The improved health of an ageing population and decreasing chronic disease rates reduce the strain on our healthcare system.
So despite what Mark Twain thought of golf, keep enjoying the walk and reap the benefits of playing the best game there is!
*Precision Athletica is Sydney’s first Institute of Sport open to every level of athlete, offering Sports Physiotherapy, Exercise Physiology, Strength and Conditioning, Nutrition and Mindflow. It is also the home of the highly acclaimed Golf NSW High Performance program and the team works with many golfers of varying ages and abilities. to find out more, visit: www.precisionathletica.com.au