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golfteeitupBy: Brian Neufeld, Contributor

It’s that time of year again. Almost everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, and the vast majority of those are related to improving health and fitness. Instead of making your life miserable slogging away in a gym, running on a treadmill, or doing exercises you haven’t even thought of since middle school gym class, there’s a multitude of ways to use the game of golf to improve your overall well-being.

By taking a fitness-first approach to the sport your odds of sticking to your resolution beyond February improves greatly as well. Golf doesn’t have to be dominated by beer bellies, and the culture change favoring fitness on the PGA Tour should be your first clue that serious golfers value their health. Gary Player is perhaps the greatest example of a fitness-first golfer and his regimen should be studied by anyone who wants to use the sport to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, as the 84-year-old can still run laps around younger players.

Compared to other high-impact activities the risk for injury in golf is fairly limited, and the benefits are numerous. Golf has been known to improve balance and flexibility in players young and old. Following a simple stretching routine before and after rounds will help prevent injury and keep your muscles in shape for those grueling rounds. Check out our previous post on golf stretches for a quick refresher on the best routine to improve your game. Regular rounds of golf have also been shown to lower the risk of strokes and heart disease and it’s proven science that golf is beneficial to mental health. Even if you’re having a rough round, you’re outdoors and decompressing from the stresses of everyday life.

In a previous post, we highlighted some tips for having successful rounds at new courses. One of the best ways to improve the experience is to walk the course. This is also the single best way to enhance the health benefits of the sport. Depending on the length of course you’re playing, walking 18 holes averages out to be about five miles of walking. Most of us will agree that taking a five-mile walk isn’t the most entertaining form of exercise, but mixing in 18 holes while carrying a 20-plus pound golf bag in a beautiful setting can do wonders for your overall fitness. Even if you only have time for nine holes, you’d be walking as far as the average American does in an entire day in just a couple of hours.

Golf carries numerous stigmas that are slowly starting to evolve. Once thought of as a game for the not so physically fit, it is gradually gaining respect as a sport that requires not just skill but a disciplined routine of exercise. As we pointed out in this weight training post, just a decade ago weight-training was taboo for the sport of golf and it’s now widely accepted that a focused program will improve your scores and your overall health. So this year, instead of making a resolution to drop pounds or hit the gym, try making one to play more golf. With all that goes in to improving your golf game these days, you’ll be shocked at how much your health improves along the way.

About the Author: Brian Neufeld

Brian Neufeld’s background includes more than 15 years of experience in golf course management, specializing in agronomy. Brian uses his knowledge of the game and best practices in turf sustention to create informative pieces for’s readers.

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