Is golf good for your heart? Simply put…absolutely. Golf is a heart healthy activity. The earliest account of a golf-like game taking place was in the Netherlands on February 26th, 1297. It was played with a ‘colf’ or ‘kolf’, a Dutch word for stick, bat or club. This was later translated into today’s name for the sport of golf. The sport was first played in Scotland during the 15th century. The earliest recorded mention of golf can be traced ack to a 1457 Scottish parliamentary act, which banned the game due to its interference with military training. Today millions of people worldwide play golf.
In general, golf is considered a “heart healthy” activity and a medium intensity sport. As with any activity, golf helps prevent cardiovascular disease and it also improves cardiovascular health in those who have heart disease. Walking and swinging a club will both increase your heart rate, which increases blood flow, and decreases cardiovascular risk. One game of golf a week will generate about 150 minutes of moderate activity. A Swedish study in 2009 found that golfers had a 40% lower death rate than nongolfers. That translated into a 5-year increase in life expectancy!
On average your heart rate increases to 100 beats per minute during a game of golf. It can go up to 130 beats per minute if walking uphill. The average golfer walks between 8.5 to 9.5 kilometres per round and can burn between 1,400 and 2,000 calories! Although golfers use carts more often as they get older, they still walk a fair amount and can burn up to 800 to 1,300 calories.
Another advantage that golf provides, aside from the cardiovascular fitness, is the maintenance of flexibility and strength. Regular physical activity helps strengthen your bones and keeps your joints from becoming stiff. This helps with overall balance and coordination which is extremely important as you age. Golf also provides plenty of mental stimulation, which has been shown to improve sleep.
Remember to stretch before you play to maintain your flexibility and prevent injury. If you have any health problems or concerns related to golf you should speak to your primary health care provider.
Northern Hearts offers programs which include heart healthy activities such as golfing and walking. The Northern Hearts Charity Golf Event and the Walk with Doc programre offered to promote physical activity and stay heart healthy. Thank you to everyone who was a part of and supported both of these programs in June! In addition to our June Walk with Doc in Thunder Bay, Northern Heart also has an upcoming Nipigon Walk with Doc which will take place Wednesday, July 26th at 12:00 pm, meeting at the Observation Tower on Railway Street in Nipigon.
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Submitted by Northern Hearts Board Member, Dr. Andrew Affleck and Program Coordinator, Lana Ryder-Methot.