Playing golf isn’t just a way to relax with friends. Golfers also enjoy a good dose of vitamin D and better overall fitness with all that walking!
Golf is often associated with retirement and relaxation, but do not let this low-intensity, low-impact sport fool you into discounting it as a means of burning calories or building muscle.
“Although golf is primarily a game of skill, a golfer can derive health benefits from the sport,” says Dr Jason Chia, Head of Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Sports Medicine and Surgery Clinic.
By walking from hole to hole on an 18-hole course instead of driving around in a golf cart, golfers cover at least eight kilometres of ground. That is more than the recommended 10,000 steps a day the Health Promotion Board (HPB) encourages to engage in to achieve good health and calorie-burning.
In addition, a golf course is typically undulating, and walking across this terrain is a gentle form of hill training suitable for older folks or those just starting out. To increase your heart rate, brisk walk along the course instead.
The health benefits of playing golf are also from the exercises that a golfer does to improve his game off-the-green.
Playing a better game of golf motivates golfers to get fit. Many top professional golf players like Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods spend hours in the gym working out to build strength and flexibility to improve their game.
“The golf swing can require explosive strength. It uses muscles from the trunk, as well as upper and lower limbs,” says Dr Chia. To improve the swing, he recommends a golf-specific weight-training regime including deadlifts, burpees, and squats for greater flexibility, core strength, and stability. Strengthening muscles and improving flexibility can also prevent the risk of injury.
These two conditions are exacerbated if the core muscles are weak, so be sure to engage in regular strength training.
Also known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow is characterised by a dull pain emanating from the inner side of the elbow. It is caused by the inflammation of the tendons connecting the forearm to the elbow.
Strengthen forearm muscles by performing wrist curls (bend the wrist) with a lightweight dumbbell. Squeezing an old tennis ball several times a day is also effective.
When you swing, you exert a lot of pressure on your spine and muscles. Poor flexibility coupled with inadequate muscle strength can lead to muscle strain, which can cause pain in the lower back.
Strengthen your back with dumbbell rows and cable pulldown exercises. Begin with light weights and increase weights gradually. Yoga and Pilates have also proven to be effective.
Playing golf exposes players to the sun, and thus increases vitamin D levels. A healthy dose of this vitamin is essential for building strong bones and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Various studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to sleep disorders, particularly daytime sleepiness.
Unless you are competing in a tournament, chances are you are golfing to relax with a friend or two. The highly social nature of the game can increase self-esteem and happiness and this alleviates depressive symptoms and improve mental health. The fresh air and green spaces of the golf course have also been shown to reduce stress levels.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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