Golf an efficient workout

The World Golf Foundation recently partnered with GOLF 20/20 and commissioned the Walker Research Group to identify how playing golf can help improve health and fitness.

Some of the findings include:

•Walking 18 holes of golf is equal to taking a five-mile walk or running close to four miles.

•Playing 18 holes of golf burns around 2,000 calories when walking and 1,300 calories in a cart.

•When walking 18 holes of golf, blood glucose levels can fall from 10 to 30 percent, depending on the person’s age.

•Golfers exceed 10,000 steps during a typical round of golf, meeting the recommended guidelines for daily exercise.

Ohio has 752 golf facilities. Of that number, 585 are public courses, according to the National Golf Foundation (www.ngf.org).

It is estimated that there are over 25.7 million Americans who play golf. Golf requires power, strength, stamina, and flexibility. The golf swing, repeated stooping to pick up the ball, prolonged standing, moving clubs from one place to the other can easily add up to problems if you are out of shape. To avoid injury or improve performance, it is important to include strength, aerobic and stretching exercises as part of your routine.

An eight-week study of golfers examined the effects of stretching exercises on joint mobility and club speed. Trunk rotation, range of motion in the hips and shoulders, and speed were initially measured. Three times per week, each participant performed a series of flexibility exercises, after which they were again measured. After only 8 weeks, flexibility in the shoulders had increased an average of 8.5 percent, in the hips 7 percent, and trunk rotation increased 23-25 percent. Muscles stretched should include hamstrings, quadriceps, low back and trunk, as well as shoulder muscles. Warm up before stretching, and avoid over-pulling. Each stretch should be done slowly and held for 20-30 seconds, repeated once or twice.

Although golf is far from an aerobic activity, you may still find yourself fatigued during the last hour or so of play. Regular aerobic conditioning gives you more stamina, endurance and mental focus. A good starting program includes a warm-up (5 minutes or so of low intensity activity) followed by 20 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise such as walking, followed by a 5 minute cool-down, 3 or 4 days a week. Increase duration or speed as you endurance improves.

In one study, when resistance training was added to a program that already included aerobic and flexibility training, clubhead speed increased by an additional 6 percent, flexibility increased 24 percent and power and strength improved by an impressive 57 percent. As an added bonus, resting blood pressure was reduced by six points, and the participants gained an average of four pounds of lean muscle and lost four pounds of fat. If you are unaccustomed to weight training, start out with only one set per exercise, using a weight that allows for 8-12 reps. When 12 repetitions can be completed easily, resistance may be increased slightly, or sets or reps may be added.

For more information, go online to golf2020.com or ngf.org.

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