Health benefits of golf

Feel the health and wellbeing benefits of golf

Mark Twain once described golf as a 'good walk spoiled', but recent research, backed by the R & A, suggests there are numerous health and wellbeing benefits to playing the sport. 

We take a look at 6 reasons to take up golf that can help improve both physical and mental health for all ages.

A recent survey of 3200 golfers, carried out by England Golf, Mytime Active and ukactive, identified a number of physical and mental health benefits of taking up golf. As part of the findings, those that had recently taken up the sport had previously been falling short of the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week, but once they get into golf, they’re likely to keep playing and improving their fitness. Also, the mood of those participating improved, well above the national average for their mental wellbeing.

As a result, golf is thought to be saving local authorities in the survey area a total of £3.4m a year in health costs. Savings could be even bigger if the golfers who play the least continue their participation and become more active.

The findings will be used to investigate the possibility of making golf available on referral by GPs. It will also help to find other ways to encourage inactive golfers to play more and to generally promote the health benefits of the game. Here are 10 reasons to 'tee it up'!


1 - Spending time in direct sunlight is necessary to get enough vitamin D

It is a well known fact that Vitamin D boosts your health in a number of ways, including supporting your immune system, which is also thought to be bolstered by exposure to fresh air. As you will no doubt be aware, a round of golf can take in the region of 4 hours to play, so taking up the sport gives you plenty of time to embrace the fresh air - just remember to pack the sun screen.

Also, many golf courses are set in picturesque locations. The focus on getting back to nature after 18 months of lockdown  can help reduce anxiety and is thought to improve concentration, while partaking in activities outside can help boost self-esteem.

2 - Golf is a social sport

There is great comfort in sharing your free time with like-minded people, and golf is no different. The social aspect is what makes the game so appealing to many people. Make the most of your shared interests and strike up a conversation with other players on the course.

Having someone to share a drink with at the ‘19th hole’  is not the only benefit. Playing sports with other people helps boost your self-esteem, social skills and overall mental wellbeing. Many clubs will hold regular competitions, ladies and seniors sections as well as children's coaching sessions so that parents can also meet up over a shared interest.

3 - Golf can improve concentration and boost your brain

Golf is a very skilful sport and teaches accuracy, focus and concentration. It also encourages creativity and creative thinking, such as the foresight to visualise where and how far your shot will go. 

Hand-eye coordination is essential in golf – as is knowing where your ball landed. The course can often be a quieter place to learn these skills, without the roar of a crowd or the umpire's whistle to distract you. 

Golfing is a fairly active pastime, and getting your circulation going means more blood is pumped to your brain. There's been plenty of research into how playing golf affects how you think. Repeated swings improve your muscle memory, and navigating a course gives you a greater sense of distance and depth.

4 - Playing golf is good for your heart

As mentioned above, the combination of walking for close to 4 miles per 18 hole round, the undulations of a golf course, raises your heart rate, gets your circulation going and encourage your heart to work more efficiently, and helping to build its muscles. Regular golf ca naturally lower your risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular issues, as well as potentially lowering your levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.

5 - Golfing can relieve stress and improve your mental health

Teeing off when you’re in a bad mood will channel your tension and stress into something productive. Plus, exercise helps our bodies release endorphins, which improve your mood and can reduce pain, as well as reducing feelings of depression.


6 - Golf burns calories and can help with weight loss

Although golf is not a high-energy sport like football or rugby, it doesn’t mean it can’t help towards weight loss. You might not feel like you’re getting an intense workout, but all that swinging and putting, plus walking an 18-hole course, really does add up. On a typical round, you’ll be almost constantly moving, and if you are carrying your clubs (rather than using a buggy), your heart rate will be at an optimum level for burning calories. 

As mentioned, the average length of a full 18-hole golf course is around 4 miles. The average person burns 350 -4 75 calories per hour playing golf. The number of calories burned depends on your weight and the intenstiy of your activity. A 200-pound person walking and pulling their clubs will burn 515 calories per hour - that's nearly burning your daily allowance of calories in one 18 hole round.