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I’m a golfer. I know, it’s basically playing fetch with yourself.
But I love everything about the game; the challenge of the sport, the beauty of the course, the smell of the grass, the promise on the 1st tee that this is “that round”. It’s a game that can’t be won, only played.
In my younger days, golf was a way to spend time with friends, while enjoying a sport that seemed more fun than work. Friends who played basketball and football were always talking about how hard it was. That wasn’t the case on the golf course. Those days, I never really considered the health benefits of playing the game, but after my father and grandfather had some heart issues, they became regular playing partners with me.
So, I dig in on the health benefits of golf and love it more than before. Turns out, there is evidence that longevity, and reducing risk factors for stroke and heart disease are associated with a regular play on the golf course. Also, the repetitive need for strength and balance required to execute a golf swing can improve those factors as we age.
A 2006 study found that, on average, a golfer walking 18 holes of golf will take 12,000 steps to complete the round, far exceeding the recommended daily amount of steps recommended for a healthy routine.
While my grandfather was late taking up the game, having not played until after he retired, I’m sure he benefited from the extra exercise and activity during his retirement. But the best part for me was the time we spent together. After that, we golfed a lot and even took a golf vacation. And I still use the golf towel he bought for me from one of those trips. We would talk about that trip all the time, and he said it was one of the best times he ever had.
Seriously, as a grandson, how great is that? I am glad that my grandfather tried golf and at his age, it is not impossible. But what was also great, when he and my grandmother would often talk about how taking up the game was helping him with his health and adjusting to his retirement.
Along with the natural effects of exercise and fresh air, his dealing with retirement and the shift of emotions that goes along with it was eased when he was at the course. Another factor they repeatedly thanked me for, was the new friends he made now that he was at the golf course all the time - my grandmother was particularly grateful for that, and I got the credit.
Recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine demonstrates the positive effects of golf on mental health. ‘Social interaction is the risk factor which has been undervalued,’ Roger Hawkes, the former chief medical officer of the European Tour and one of the authors of the study, told CNN. ‘Mental health is a big thing in this day and age, and moderate physical activity is associated with a reduction in anxiety and a reduction in depression.’
Had I never taken up the game, I would’ve never had those experiences and memories. As a bachelor, I spent a lot of time on the course, and after meeting my soon-to-be wife, she took up the game as well. It has become a game that we enjoy together before we got married, and plan to for the rest of our lives. Golf is one of the few sports where that is possible.
The game has also now trickled down to the next generation of our family. It all started when we bought an indoor putting green for our house as a bonding activity for the family. Then all three of my kids play, and one is even considering a career as a teaching professional.
I had no idea when I was younger that the game would be as big a part of my life as it is, and I can’t imagine my life without golf involved.I find myself spending time in my yard hitting practice balls or practicing on our indoor putting green in my living room. I would encourage anyone, even in these days of social distancing.
The game of golf is a great game. Take it up if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it.
Date of last review 01/07/20
Date of next review 01/07/20
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