According to figures gathered between 2003 and 2014, the popularity of golf is declining in the UK with recent figures showing a 20% drop. But should we actually be encouraging more people to take up the sport? And are there any health benefits that would invite people to do so? Well, it turns out that, yes, there are.
It might be an easy sport for picking up blisters, but according to a study from the Rose Centre for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver, Colorado, it is also an excellent source of cardio health. According to their research, the average golfer carrying his or her own bag, playing on a 9-hole course will burn around 721 calories – based on research suggesting that an adult should burn 2,500 calories a week, this could mean that 3 9-hole games a week could take golfers very close to their calorie burning target. Of course, this is a variable, and the number of calories burned will depend on whether the player carries their own bag, for example, but there are always going to be benefits when cardio exercise takes place, however much occurs.
It probably would not be good to suggest that playing golf is a good way to bulk up, but there is some suggestion that regular play can help in toning and muscle growth. The repetitive motion of the swing and the drive behind it can aid a person in developing muscles across the whole arm, and even in the shoulder. Again, it isn't likely to be employed by bodybuilders as the sole muscle building exercise, but it could be a positive if you're looking for a little growth.
Although it's very often a game, that is defined by people's struggle, it is also a great stress buster, for a number of reasons. Whether it's just because you're out in the open, or whether it's catharsis caused by the striking of the ball, it can be a huge tension reliever for people. A combination of nature, competition and cardio workouts can absolutely be linked to overall mental health improvements and there has even been studies done that suggest a link between playing golf and a better night's sleep.
If you're looking to completely overhaul your health, then picking up golf probably won't make a huge difference and you might be better off going with something that burns more fat; but if you're just looking for a regular activity that combines skill, the outdoors, walks on well-tended grass and a generally relaxed atmosphere, then you couldn't do much better than having a go at golfing.