In the old joke, one senior golfer asks another if he can see where his ball landed. ‘Yes’, replies the other, ‘but I can’t remember’. In fact, this picture couldn’t be further from the truth. Multiple studies have shown how playing golf helps keep the body well-functioning and, less obviously, improves cognitive function in aging people.
In one paper published by Oxford University, the authors note that their results
“provide evidence that golf, as a cognitively-challenging physical activity, may improve physical and cognitive function, leading to attenuated risk for poor health outcomes, maintaining independence and improved quality of life.”
9 Physical Benefits of Golf
Though there is still a lot of ongoing research into the physical benefits of regularly playing golf amongst the aging, these nine points have been observed in almost all studies.
- A golfer covers four miles over a round of eighteen holes which burns around 1400 calories
- Even if you ride in a cart, you still burn around 800 calories from a combination of swinging and walking back and forth.
- Swinging: Each shot assists in stimulating muscle growth, especially in the chest, arms and buttocks. Best of all, repeated action can reduce lower back pain.
- Regular playing leads to an increase in grip strength.
- The game encourages a better sense of balance which reduces the occurrence of falling and helps overall independence.
- Stroke and heart attack sufferers who played golf were considerably more likely to survive than those who didn’t.
- As golf is a gentle way of getting exercise, there is much less danger of getting injured compared with many other sports.
- Frequent participation leads to a more balanced blood glucose level and lowers cholesterol.
- Increased lung capacity
The American Heart Association stated in a recent report that “Regular exercise, exposure to a less polluted environment and social interactions provided by golf are all positive for health.
9 Cognitive and Wellbeing Benefits of Golf
Golf is first and foremost a game of strategy, problem-solving and mental ability. To finish our round, let’s look at the top nine mental and wellbeing benefits that golf can bring to the ageing.
- Playing golf regularly seems to have a positive effect on memory loss. This is especially notable in people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. They may not know the day of the week but can still keep the score. As a result of blood flow to the brain, the onset of either of these diseases can be delayed.
- Cognitive functions, such as attention levels are enhanced.
- Social interaction by meeting new people or conversing with old friends decreases feelings of isolation and depression often experienced by the elderly.
- Senior golfers have a higher level of self-esteem through the release of self-produced endorphins.
- Frequent playing can lower your stress levels and lead to better sleeping with all the known benefits that can bring to health.
- The game helps to give the player heightened emotional control.
- Senior players experience a better ability of imagery whilst setting self-imposed targets.
- Increases commitment to fulfilling tasks.
- Golf brings an overall feeling of wellbeing through exposure to sunshine, fresh air and often beautiful landscapes.
Combined, these physical and mental improvements might explain why Seniors might say they feel ten years younger after finishing a round. As it turns out, this may only be a slight exaggeration. A Swedish study of over 300,000 players reported in the New York Times found that on average golfers lived five years longer than non-golfers.
Research continues into all these benefits as sports clinicians seek to discover more about the processes involved. It should then be possible to tailor the golfing experience to get the optimal benefits.