Is golf exercise? Is it really a sport that will do anything for your body or fitness at all? Until this summer, I would have given you a hard “no” to answer that one. My opinion was that it was more of a passive activity. You put a ball down, give a single twist to swing the club, then slowly stroll to the cart that will drive you to wherever it landed. The only sweat you’d break out from that would be from standing under the sun on a hot day.
But Is Golf Exercise? Was I Wrong?
It’s definitely a sport. It takes skill, training, and precision to get it right. However, when deciding if golf is exercise in the sense that it will benefit fitness, it all depends on how you do it. If you’re playing in the way I described above, you really won’t do much for yourself. You won’t even fill your step target on your fitness tracker, let alone raise your heart rate in any meaningful way. It’s something you could do in a suit, when it all comes down to it. That said, there’s more than one way to play.
How to Make Golf Exercise
It is possible to make golf exercise in your day. The key is to stop skipping the active components that are readily available but that are frequently replaced out of convenience, to save time, or out of sheer laziness (yes, we can admit that here). By using this as a real sport, it can provide a cardio workout, a strength training component, and work your balance and coordination as well.
Let’s take a closer look at those factors.
1 – Cardiovascular Workout
From the standpoint of making golf exercise, the cardiovascular workout is the easiest and most obvious component. That said, it’s also the easiest part to skip over. If you have a golf cart, you’ve essentially eliminated this readily available fitness benefit.
By skipping the golf cart during your game, you will not only blow right through your daily step goal, but you’ll get a spectrum of cardio benefits, too. After all, most courses are spread out over tons of uneven, hilly grounds. When you walk the course, you’re working your body even more than you would by walking on a sidewalk.
2 – Strength Training
There are two components that make strength training possible when you’re using golf as a form of exercise. The first is that you’re swinging the golf club, which is admittedly not that much of an effort. That said, while you walk up and down the hills of the course, you are working your lower body like your quads and hamstrings. If you’re lifting a golf bag and carrying it around, that adds a bit as well.
The second area that makes strength training possible for golf is if you practice the sport and train for it off the course. If you’re taking any time to improve your game, then you’ll be going to the driving range in between tee times. This gives you more of a workout – though an imbalanced one, so it’s important to ensure both sides of your body are worked. This definitely doesn’t mean you’re getting the same kind of strength training as lifting weights, but it still beats sitting at a desk.
3 – Balance and Coordination
Using your body in the way that golf requires you to move helps you to improve your overall sense of balance. It also requires you to be able to work your body in a way that allows for large movements as well as smaller, far more subtle movements. In this way, you’ll not only swing the club, but also add to the precision for the direction you want the ball to take, the height you want it to achieve, and the distance you want it to travel.
Developing balance and coordination is good for you all throughout your life. It can help you to be less likely to knock things over, for one thing, but it also reduces your risk of injury from tripping and falling. This becomes increasingly important as you age, so I always recommend starting right now with that type of workout. If golf is your exercise, so be it!