When you think about golfing, you may picture fancy clubs and golfing sweaters — you probably don’t think about breaking a sweat. However, golfing is more of a workout than you might think. Though the cardio and strength training involved with the sport is light to moderate, it still supplies a good workout for a variety of different ages and abilities. Though the cardio isn’t intense, you’ll still get plenty of steps in, even if you use a golf cart. A golf swing involves a lot of muscle, balance, and rotation. Being on the course also provides a lot of mental health benefits that you get from a good workout. Furthermore, it’s a sport that can keep a lot of different types of people active, even those with mobility issues.
Light to Moderate Cardio
If you’re looking for intense cardio, golfing probably won’t provide it. However, there’s definitely some light to moderate cardio involved with this sport. Players who aren’t using a cart walk about 5 miles through an 18-hole course. Even golfers using a cart can burn about 1,300 calories and walk 2 miles. You might be lugging around your clubs, chasing shots in the rough, or walking in places where the carts can’t go to get more time on your feet. Golf courses also offer a lot of varied terrain to increase your heart rate as you walk around.
Golfing certainly isn’t quite as leisurely as you might think, and can serve as a great introduction to a more involved fitness regimen. While it is difficult to form good exercise habits, golf can provide you a reason to get up and get moving. It can make working out fun and even be a social experience with friends/family. The sport can kick-start your exercise habits to a healthy, sustainable level and allow you to achieve greater fitness goals.
Putting Muscle in Your Swing
The perfect golf swing is pretty technical. The process is very specific and requires a lot of learning and practice to get exactly right. The right golf swing will activate your abs, glutes, pecs, lats, and forearms. Though a golf swing won’t take the place of a strength training workout in the gym, it’s still a process that activates a lot of muscles and requires a lot of speed, strength, and rotation to get just right.
However, it’s important to realize that these movements can cause or aggravate an injury. Lower back strain, tennis elbow, rotator cuff strain, or spinal cord injury are all possible golf-related injuries. Spinal cord injuries — damaging the nerves inside a person’s spinal column that control muscle movement throughout the body — are especially dangerous because they can lead to paralysis. This is why it’s important to get your technical swing correct, rest when you need it, and focus on workouts that can strengthen your body and lower your chances of injury.
Workouts to Improve Your Golf Swing
Because golf isn’t a sport for any old slouch, it’s important to focus on the muscle-building exercises that can improve your swing. Think about loosening your body, strengthening your muscles, and not overworking yourself. Here are some specific exercises that can help you do just that:
- Dumbbell reverse flys: This back exercise is one of the best because it doesn’t take a lot of weight and focuses on the upper back. Though many back workouts will help your golf swing, this one is easy to do for golfers of any fitness level.
- Seated dumbbell press: This shoulder exercise has many variations, but can help to keep your shoulders strong to complete every motion of your golf swing.
- Farmer’s walk: This type of forearm workout involves holding a great deal of weight for a long period of time to help build your forearm muscles responsible for a portion of your technique.
The Mental Health Benefits
There are a lot of reasons to workout, and one of them involves the mental health benefits you can get. Combine the endorphin rush you get from a workout with the enjoyment of a sport you love and being in the outdoors and you get another reason why golfing is good for the body. For a lot of people, it’s hard to find a workout they actually enjoy. No one wants to watch every second of the clock on an elliptical or dread each lift in the weight room. Though golfing isn’t particularly high in intensity, it still offers a physical game with strength and cardio components to help people increase their activity while doing something they enjoy.
A Workout for Many Ages and Abilities
Golf is a sport that is popular with an older crowd. It’s both gentle enough on the body to allow older golfers to play, and enough of a workout that it keeps them active. There are plenty of rules and etiquette involved in golf, many of which involve being courteous about the other players around you.
This is why many courses require carts to be used, even though walking the course would be preferable to many players looking to get more cardio in. Requiring carts makes the game more accessible to older players who may not be able to walk the course or children who may take longer to walk those distances. This is why golf is a light workout that can benefit many different ages and abilities, unlike some more difficult workout options.
Golf is a sport that mixes relaxation with activity. It’s an easygoing sport that’s not going to push your heart rate as high as a game of basketball, but it’s more of a workout than you might think. With a mixture of light cardio and strength needed for your swing, it helps its players get moving. It’s a technical sport and targets very specific muscles in the body. Next time you’re golfing, pay attention to your steps and focus on the muscles activated in your swing. At the end of the day, it’s great for the body and the mind to be out on the course instead of at home on the couch.