Golf can be one of the most enjoyable and still maddening games you’ll ever play. But I like a challenge, so when my game’s wheels fall off, I know how to improve it: get a little advice from friends or a golf pro, empty a few buckets of balls, and take a stroll through the fairways at River’s Edge while concentrating on slowing down my swing to improve my accuracy.
As most golfers have found, the same things that improve your golf score can also improve your health. It sounds suspect that you can play a game you love and reap health benefits, but it’s all true. Get yourself into motion, and the rhythm of good habits will sustain you forever.
Playing Golf is a Physical Workout
In the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton stated, “An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion.” Now I doubt Sir Isaac ever got a chance to play golf, but his laws of motion describe golf shots and our health to a tee. Staying active and involved with the natural world around you is directly related to your quality of life. The health benefits of golf offer so many things that sedentary work – and games – can’t provide.
Walking a course will connect you with fairways, the rough, the fringe, and sand traps – it’s a great trip, and it can be a good hike, up to five or six miles if you’re playing a long course. But even if you use a riding cart, you’ll still get in plenty of steps. Every one of those steps equates to exercise that has long-term health benefits.
In a 2020 report, the Lancet (a peer-reviewed medical journal started in 1823 by English surgeon Thomas Wakley) stated unequivocally that “antihypertensive treatment for hypertension is the only known preventive medication for dementia.” As for non-prescription treatments, doctors agree some possibilities include the benefits offered by golf!
Golf health benefits of reducing blood pressure include:
- Exercising regularly – Playing golf and walking the course is excellent exercise.
- Managing stress – Golf offers gentle challenges in non-threatening surroundings.
- Getting quality sleep – Exercise reduces stress and improves sleep patterns.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Golf, exercise, and a proper diet is an excellent combo for getting fit.
The healthy stretching and body movement involved in golf can also be a tonic as powerful as the fountain of youth. Stretching, bending, swinging your hips, and keeping your heart rate slightly elevated while walking and playing reduce stress and improve muscle tone.
The benefits of exercise and burning calories while playing golf can be transformative for your physique. Improving muscle tone and flexibility helps with your swing and pivot, so the more you play, the better you’ll feel, and your overall game and outlook can improve immensely.
Playing Golf Promotes Mental Stimulation
Our bodies and minds demand stimulation. A clear path is easy, but the path unknown provokes excitement and a test we all relish. While our brains must work hard to stimulate new growth, neural pathways can be created by challenging ourselves and taking on new hobbies and activities. Golf offers a plethora of mental health benefits, from the challenges of competing against the course design and other players to calculating strategies for distance, club choice, and ball placement.
Other calculations requiring mental dexterity can include the simple math used to define scoring averages, driving distances, or the odds of carrying the water and making the green in regulation compared to the stroke lost if you take a dunk.
Even adjusting your swing for windy conditions or working your way around a dogleg demands some mental acuity. Think your shots through clearly, and you’ll lower your scores and increase your mental stimulation. Golf is a game of precision and muscle memory, but it’s also an exercise in strategy! The more clarity you bring to the course, the better you’ll interpret your challenges and how you should meet them.
Sometimes laying back on a shot is admirable, even the best option, but can you gain more by summoning your skill and taking a chance to overcome a tough shot? Challenges accepted are challenges met, regardless of the outcome, and self-confidence is an excellent game improver!
Being active and meeting players around the course is also helpful in maintaining mental health. Whether you are playing against them or playing as a group to do your best on a challenging course, you’ll build relationships through a shared experience. If you can hold work meetings on the course, you can learn a lot about your business associates or competitors as they navigate the game of golf. Often, the weekend golf game dictates how the business meetings on Mondays go.
You can enjoy the lack of distractions, no cell phones, and no forced conversations if you’re playing alone, so don’t fret if you can’t catch a foursome!
Playing Golf Encourages Solid Sleep
Even nine holes of golf takes commitment. You’ll make great strides mentally by planning and keeping your golf engagements, and the fresh air and exercise will reduce stress (unless you putt like me) and improve your sleep.
Our busy lives, late-hour shift work, and hectic schedules make our natural sleep patterns and our bodies’ circadian rhythms easily thrown off. When our brain’s master clock is out of whack, essential functions like body temperature, digestion, and hormone release are affected. Then, the body’s natural production of melatonin – our drowsy drug – is inhibited. Exercise and getting to bed at a reasonable hour help immensely.
Now don’t misunderstand me. You don’t have to be physically exhausted to get benefits from exercise, but a full round of golf can pleasantly tire you out in a healthy way that offers long-term benefits. Then, those proteins deep in our brains’ hypothalamus help activate feelings of wakefulness, alertness, or sleepiness at the proper times.
In addition, a round of golf is likely to promote neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to form new neural connections that help us adapt throughout life. Afterward, that same golf round is likely to help us sleep!
Playing Golf Offers Healthy Exposure to Sunshine
Healthy exposure to sunshine is essential for all people, even those who haven’t realized how great golf is. If you do golf, wearing some sunshade like a hat or sunscreen is a good idea, but our skin essentially makes Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Besides, you’ll feel better getting some rays.
Vitamin D is responsible for helping our digestive system absorb calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. A lack of Vitamin D can result in reduced bone density, leading to an increase in the possibility of bone fracture.
The benefits of vitamin D also include activating receptors that help regulate the metabolism of fatty acids within muscle and body fat and can assist our immune system and its ability to fight off viruses as well as infections. Get your sun on while improving your immune system and living the golf dream.
Playing Golf Has a Low Risk of Injury
Golf isn’t a contact sport, so you’re not likely to be injured unless you drive your cart worse than your tee shots. Beyond that, you can make sure you arrive early for your tee spot with adequate time for some stretching and practice swings. Proper maintenance of your golf swing is as critical for scoring as staying healthy is for our bodies.
Maintaining the correct stance and not lunging at the ball helps keep your head steady and eyes on the ball. Good vision helps you time your swing and contact the ball properly. And, since our lives are centered around office spaces and computers, using our eyes to pick up that tiny sphere in the distance after each swing forces us to concentrate our vision on things at a great distance for a change.
Playing regularly and using the practice facilities at River’s Edge allows everyone to improve their hand-eye coordination and transfer that ability to a better round of golf while increasing their physical health.
Play Golf at River’s Edge Golf Course in Bend, Oregon
When you’re playing River’s Edge, Bend’s top golf course, your health benefits may not be foremost in your mind. That’s understandable. With a sublime view of the stately Cascades’ snowcapped peaks, manicured greens, and tree-speckled course, it’s easy to be overcome by the majesty of nature that often includes deer and elk on the course.
Like the wildlife, the course offers an abundance of water and sand challenges. Precision and skillful play benefit golfers who study the scorecard and mentally plan their shots. Multiple rounds bring clarity to demanding holes, and those with the grit and mental acuity reap the rewards.
Before you send your first tee shot flying, take advantage of the practice facilities at River’s Edge, which include an extensive, natural driving range and a putting surface with ever-changing practice holes and plenty of square footage for chipping practice.
If you’re unfamiliar with Central Oregon’s best golf course, start in the well-stocked River’s Edge Pro Shop for advice on the design, challenges, and course’s best features. The pros also know their golf equipment, so browse the large selection of accessories or grab a new shirt and hat.
You might also want to ask about lessons or the River’s Edge Club Card. For just $59, you can save as much as 38% on current season rates!
Don’t forget, Bogey’s Café has a big TV screen and a huge deck overlooking the course. While you’re there, check out they’re famously made to order sandwiches and enjoy a beer while marveling at the views of the city and surrounding countryside.