Scotland, the home of golf, will this year host the Solheim Cup, the pinnacle of Women’s golf. Two teams of the best 12 players from Europe and the USA will battle over 3 days of competition at Gleneagles in Perthshire from the 9th – 15th September. The week will start with practice rounds then progress to two days of match play followed by 12 singles matches on the final day, the same format as the Ryder Cup.
The chance to watch experts may just encourage us to go out and try golf too. 55 million people across the world in 206 different countries regularly play golf. They do so for pleasure, often without realising that they are improving their health too. Did you know that golf is good for your health, as a player and as a spectator too?
First, consider the task – what is it that golfers ask their body to do for an 18 -hole round of golf:-
- Walk between 11,245 – 16, 667 steps (4 – 8 miles), on varying slopes.
- Take over 100 swings with a golf club, including practice swings.
- Putt 30 – 40 times.
- Bend down 40 -50 times.
- Hit the ball, with a driver at up to 100 – 120 miles per hour.
- Carry clubs or pull / push a trolley.
- If you ride in a golf buggy, you may still take 6280 steps.
This level of exercise contributes to our good health in many ways. Research, reviewed by Dr Andrew Murray and his team at Edinburgh University, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in October 2016, showed that golf provides moderate level physical activity. This level of activity can reduce our risk of getting major diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, colon or breast cancer and many more. Golf can improve our muscle strength and endurance, our balance reactions and can help prevent falls, particularly important to help the elderly maintain independence. Golf can be played by all age groups, and all age groups benefit.
Golf is a social sport. It gives us time to spend with friends and family, often across the generations as it is not uncommon to have three generations playing together. Golf gives us the chance to meet new people and make friends in the fresh air, in beautiful green open spaces. These are all factors important in maintaining good mental health and a sense of wellbeing.
A Swedish study looked at the life expectancy of 300,818 golfers compared to non-golfers and found a 40% lower mortality rate in the golfers. This caused them to speculate that golfers have a 5 year increase in life expectancy regardless of gender. By maintaining physical and mental health, these extra years are good quality years too.
Unlike other sports, spectators at golf competitions get to walk the course. This means that golf spectators can get many health benefits too. Whether you choose to play golf, or just walk with someone who is, your health will benefit.
The health column is contributed by McNaughton Physiogrange, Edinburgh
Published in Konect September 2019