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Lean on the Green: top 4 reasons why playing golf is good for your health

December 13, 2013

Mark Twain famously said that golf was a 'good walk spoiled'. But had he the proclivity to play a few rounds now and then, he might have said something more along the lines of 'A walk without a game of golf in between is about as vitalising as a plain old glass of water - vapid, lifeless and only half as good for you as you might think'. At least, that's how we'd imagine him to put it.

That's because playing golf can bring some impressive health benefits, as well as improving your overall sense of wellbeing. In fact, the sport is a powerhouse of all the core ingredients doctors recommend for an optimum physical and mental healthy lifestyle.

Still not convinced? Let's take a look at the leading reasons why golf breaks will keep you lean on the green and in the best shape of your life.

Walking and cardiovascular exercise

Teeing-off with a major example to start with, golfing requires a great deal of walking, and whilst this might sound like a leisurely 'walk in the park' to some, we can assure you there's nothing gentle about it.

With 18 holes, the average golf course is anything between 5 and 8 miles. If you keep a brisk pace going hole to hole, you will definitely get a thorough cardiovascular workout, which is great for the heart and lungs. The walk back to the clubhouse from the last hole is typically about a mile or so, which means the combined intermittent efforts between holes and that final uninterrupted stretch home can help you burn upwards of 250 calories.

Throw in a hefty bag of golf clubs that need carrying and you're also putting weight-bearing exercises into the mix, which combined with the weight-loss benefits of walking will result in a trimmer, more muscle-toned physique - especially if you're playing a few times a week.

Improved game means Increased strength

If you're serious about improving your game then taking the necessary steps to increase your strength is most certainly the answer. In conjunction with carrying your own clubs on the course, lifting light weights in the gym and performing basic core exercises can help improve your grip, posture, and put some muscle behind your swing.

Diet of champions

A good golf player should consume a healthy, low fat diet that is rich in energy-burning carbohydrates, fresh fruit and veg, and muscle-building protein. The constant play and training required during a two to four hour game of golf is only truly effective when accompanied by a healthy, nutritious diet that will manage the body's performance and help develop muscle.

Of course, a healthy diet also has benefits that exist beyond the golf course. Eating the right kinds of foods to facilitate your game can also have tremendous effects on your physique and reduce the risks of noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer and skeletal conditions.

Another essential nutrient - vitamin D - also finds its way into the body of the regular golfer, only this one is provided by the sun. Since golf is an outdoor sport, golfers soak up considerable amounts of vitamin D, a vitamin that many people lack in their diet. It helps raise energy levels, improves mood, generates cell growth and aids calcium absorption. All in all, it's a vitamin that makes us feel a whole lot better. Which lands us neatly on to the putting green for one last play to make...

Mental wellbeing

Aside from the physical benefits, there's also plenty of aspects to the sport that can greatly improve the cognitive side of a healthy lifestyle. As well as being a recreational activity that reduces stress, boosts concentration and brain power, not to mention the satisfaction that comes with every improvement to your game, golf is also a highly social sport. There are few things better than teeing up on a gorgeous day for a friendly - all be it very competitive - round of golf with good friends. And these are all integral attributes to help create a healthy feeling of happiness, confidence and an overall positive sense of wellbeing.

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