Why Golf is Good For You
August is National Golf Month, and San Diego has no shortage of opportunities to celebrate it. The county is home to over 90 public and private golf courses, including the world-famous Torrey Pines.
Whether you’re teeing off seaside or playing the back nine on the inland valleys’ rolling greens, golfing is an excellent way to stay fit and engaged with others.
The Benefits of Golf
Golf is as much a mental game as it is physical. It challenges both your body and mind, improving your health in many different ways:
- Increased socialization. A thriving social network isn’t just for teenagers. Strong social bonds and a sense of belonging are just as important in your later years. Life changes like the kids going off to college, or even retirement, can usher in feelings of loneliness or anxiety. Golf provides the perfect outlet to interact with friends and peers on a regular basis while staying active.
- Keeps your mind sharp. Golf boosts your brain power by improving concentration, sharpening your focus, and forcing you to strategize and plan for a successful game. These factors are especially important for keeping cognitive function high in older adults.
- Relieves stress. Being active is one of the best ways to naturally relieve stress and anxiety. Golf combines physical activity with fresh air, sunshine, and socialization, making it the perfect remedy for stress relief.
- Great exercise. The myth that golf isn’t “real” exercise is just that — a myth. If you opt to walk the links (or even if you walk every other hole), an 18-hole round of golf can easily rack up over 10,000 steps. Carrying your own clubs adds a higher calorie burn. And don’t forget that each swing helps tone your arms, shoulders, and core.
- Low risk of injury. Golfers have pulled a muscle or thrown out their back by over-swinging or chopping their way out of a sand trap. But in general, golf has a low risk of serious injury, especially compared to other sports. You can boost your chances of remaining injury-free by regularly practicing your swing mechanics, ensuring a proper grip, and warming up before each game.
- Better sleep. Even if you didn’t play your best game, you’ll likely sleep much better than if you didn’t play at all. One 18-hole round works out to over four straight hours of activity and concentration, which will prepare you well for a night of quality sleep.
How To Prep For Your Best Game
Maybe you’re trying to lower your handicap, or you want to finally break 80. Here are some ways to get you there:
- Stretch and practice relaxation. Physical tension can seriously mess with your golf swing and score. A daily stretching routine and practiced relaxation techniques, like progressive muscle relaxation, make it easier to keep your body loose and limber while you play.
- Study the course. All golfers can lower their scores simply by having a solid strategy out on the links. One of the best ways to do this is to study the course online ahead of time and plan accordingly, taking note of the terrain, key yardages to various targets, and any areas you feel will be extra challenging.
- Arrive early and warm up. No matter how confident you’re feeling about your game, always get to the course early and give yourself at least 45 minutes to warm up before your tee time.
- Take up yoga or pilates. Yoga and pilates are both excellent low-impact exercise routines that relieve stress, build strength, and improve flexibility and blood circulation throughout the body. Pilates focuses on a developing a firm, strong core, which aids in your stance and swing. Yoga keeps your muscles limber and flexible, reducing your chance of injury.
- Visualize your game. The pros have used visualization techniques for decades. It involves playing your golf round in your head, beginning with the first tee-off, up through the final hole. This mental practice helps you see your ideal situation — and take note of your form, stance, and swing — so that you can more easily put it into action when the time comes.
- Develop a routine. Just as a baseball pitcher might rub his hands together, adjust his cap, or dig his toe into the mound before throwing the ball, golfers should cultivate their own routine before taking a swing. This acts as a reminder to stay calm and focused.