The topic of golf injuries, especially back pain, is often discussed. Every little ailment is taken up and discussed, certainly with good reason, according to the motto: Do you still play golf or are you already ill?. However, the healing effect of the sport is often neglected. Golf is pure medicine for your heart, for instance. It improves your heart rate and blood pressure. The health benefits of golf cover a long list, and not only in physical terms. Golf is a sport that benefits both body and mind.
Five more years of life
There are plenty of studies about the health benefits of golf. The Swedes, have found that golfers who play at least once a week live an average of five years longer than those who don’t. The Karolinska Institute, in its capacity as the Royal Medical University, analysed the lifespan of 300,000 active golfers. The mean was born after 1920 and started playing before 2001. However, this applied primarily to male golfers with single-digit handicaps. The goal was to examine ageing over a lifetime of playing golf.
“Moderate physical activity like golf increases life expectancy,” says Dr. Andrew Murray, head of the Golf & Health Project at the University of Edinburgh. The sport supports the prevention and treatment of more than 40 important chronic diseases such as heart and stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer.
Prophylaxis against coronary disease
The British recently called for people to play golf in old age. For instance, the second largest charitable insitution regarding heart health in the UK, “Heart Research UK” praised on its newsletter the benefits of walking the fairways.
The Institution described that action as a proven prophylactic against the development of heart weaknesses and heart diseases. “Physical activity, and golf in particular, can improve levels of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol,” says the “Active Lifestyle Recommendation”. “Do what you enjoy and start slowly. Actually, what matters the most is that you start in the first place.”
The Heart Research UK has golf in high steem because it “adds a lot of walking miles to the exercise account” in a more fun way – see the 10,000-steps-a-day rule of thumb. In 2017, the Sport Industry Research Centre at Hallam University in Sheffield found that just one regular round of 18 holes a week reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 30%.
Start early enough for healthy ageing
Admittedly, Heart Research UK’s call primarily aims at the elder to “enrich their golden years with moderate health-promoting and enjoyable physical activities.” But, as we all know, you can’t start ageing healthily soon enough!
Basically, one 18-hole round burns at least 1,200 calories, 5-10 kcal/min. This corresponds to three hours of power walking, for example. Unlike other ball sports, such as football or tennis, golf burns mostly fats. This lowers blood fat levels, especially LDL cholesterol, which a surplus of it can be more harmful to the cardiovascular system.
In addition, a total of 124 muscles tense during a skilful swing. Training from head to toe. All of this in the fresh air, with constant exertion at a low pulse rate – unless the ball is lying for an eagle putt – and in the aerobic muscular range of motion. Once you manage to maintain the low pulse rate when putting a 5-foot for birdie, then you will have reached the peak of the health benefits of golf at its fullest, regarding body and mind.
Perspectives for golf clubs and golf facilities
Last but not least, in the context of the demographic development of organised golf in the country, there is also a considerable prospect for golf clubs and facilities. The target group is the “Forever Youngsters” – everything needs a catchword. Futurologists associate this with an elder social class that focuses on optimising health in the sense of longevity and refer to health as a symbol against looking old and being old.
Prevention, rehabilitation, inclusion
Consequently, the DGV launched the “Golf and Health” project in 2017. Ultimately, it is about the golf club and facilities to seek for health partners and orientations towards prevention, rehabilitation and inclusion. A perfect example is the Hummelbachaue golf course near Neuss. This club cooperates with the health service provider MedicoReha, which operates the “MedGolf Institute”. They offer a wide range of sports medicine and physiotherapy measures in its PGA golf clinic. Also in cooperation with the professionals at the Hummelbachaue.
No need to conclude that golf is the ideal sport to improve your health regardless of your age.