Tee Up for Health
The benefits and risks of a popular pastime
Unlike some other sports, golf remains a great option for older adults. It’s a safe, social, and pleasurable activity that places low demand on the body.
Studies show that older people can benefit from moderate exercise of long duration. And that’s just what golf has to offer. A typical 18-hole round of golf involves about a 4-mile walk.
But walking is the key. If you use a cart, you miss out on the benefits. Walking during a golf game has been shown to help blood cholesterol levels. And golfing may relieve lower back pain. Plus, walking a golf course can reduce weakness and increase coordination, which may cut the risk for falls.
Some Common — and Uncommon — Risks
As with any type of exercise, a round of golf comes with more than just benefits.
While golf is generally a low-risk sport, it does have its share of potential injuries. Some common golf injuries include:
- Low back pain
- Elbow injuries
- Wrist injuries
- Shoulder injuries
In addition to these common injuries, there are some very uncommon injury risks. A golfer may hit a fellow golfer with a reckless backswing or with a club thrown in anger or disgust. A golfer also can injure himself with that same club thrown in anger or with a swing that hits the ground instead of the ball.
While these injuries can be prevented with some self-control and a few lessons, the more common injuries can be prevented by warming up before a round. Proper swing mechanics taught by a professional golfer and a regular exercise program also can decrease your risk for injury.
One final thing that every golfer should remember is to know and follow the course’s procedures for lightning safety. Lightning-strike injuries occur every year on golf courses. When a storm comes, it is always safest to get indoors or inside a closed metal vehicle with the windows up. If this is not possible, lie in a sand trap. Be sure not to lie close to your fellow golfers because lightning can travel from person to person. Avoid standing on the fairway, near a metal pole, or near trees.
Golf may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions. Check with your doctor before adding golf to your exercise routine..