The commonly used term “the one percent” or “the one percenters” refers to those that hold the most wealth in America. That status isn’t available to all of us for various reasons, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about something that IS available to nearly all of us. For 99 percent of us, better health is available. Now, I understand how generalized that statement is, so let’s focus on the word “better”. I didn’t say “ideal health”, or “optimal health”, but “better health” is available to 99 percent of us.
For many golfers, the game is very much a significant part of his or her lifestyle. So what role does golf play on the journey to better health?
The three most basic pieces of health, in my opinion, are fresh air, clean water, and sunshine. Golf helps us obtain all three of these elements in regular doses. A round of golf is often the equivalent of a hike in nature. Surrounding ourselves with trees, grass, and sometimes ocean breezes is a dose of fresh air that we could easily miss out on if it weren’t for the game of golf. Fresh air isn’t just good for our lungs, it also relaxes us, and creates an awareness of our own breathing. Some people meditate in order to connect with their spiritual side - they listen to their own breathing - and temporarily delete much of the stress and worry that fills their mind. We can achieve that by walking down the first fairway. We’re also lucky enough to carry our own supplies as we play golf. This includes a generous portion of clean water to drink. This sounds so simple, but you’d be surprised by how many adults are able to go five hours without any hydration. Not only does this have a negative impact on ones health, but I can almost guarantee that it has scorecard implications as well. Drink water while you play golf. It’s a simple task, with wonderful results. This is most important when it’s sunny and warm out. Speaking of sun, often times we get the benefit of Vitamin D while we play golf. We all have access to hats, jackets, sunglasses, and sunscreen, should we want to limit our exposure, but the benefits of being in the sunshine are plentiful. Numerous studies show that the risks involved with not getting enough Vitamin D are far more severe than the risks of getting too much sun. Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus in our bones, helping us maintain bone density and muscle strength. Mood disorders and cardiovascular problems are also issues that can be improved with an increase in Vitamin D.
Cardiovascular health is obviously one of the most important elements of health in the human body. We improve our own cardiovascular health by walking. Walking 18 holes of golf, roughly the equivalent of four to five miles, is nearly ideal for your heart. Walking is also easy on the knee joints, tendons, and ligaments. This cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness that we gain from walking 18 holes decreases our risk of many heart diseases. Walking also helps manage hypertension (high blood pressure), muscle pain, and even diabetes. On top of all that, we get improved strength and balance, which no golfer would object to.
Lastly, we often gain the benefit of human interaction while we play golf. Though this is highly dependent on each individual, social interaction can also reduce certain health risks. A reduction of stress, depression and anxiety can all occur as you walk down a fairway with your playing partner.
So next time you hook your tee shot, and feel like you might get upset or frustrated, remember that you’re doing more than just playing golf. So much health is available to you as you make your way around the golf course. Golf is not meant to add stress to our lives, it’s meant to improve our health. Next time you play golf, I urge you to look beyond your yardages, club selections, and contours of the green, and seek more. Take advantage of all that a round of golf has to offer. Embrace the goodness that’s available. It’s not hard to find.