Among many amenities at Leisure World Arizona, a 55+ community in Mesa, Arizona, are two 18-hole private golf courses. I get the opportunity to work closely with a “mature” golfing clientele. Many residents believe that playing golf is an adequate form of physical fitness, while golf can certainly be a healthy aspect of physical fitness it is not the only form of exercise that is important.
Flexibility, balance, and strength are main components of golf that are lost as people age. A good rule of thumb is that a person’s age should be the percentage of flexibility focus in their exercise program. For example, someone who is 60, 60% of their exercise program should consist of some form of flexibility.
Open Books is an exercise I use to improve my clients’ shoulder, chest, and spine flexibility. Mel (age 79) is lying on his right side with his knees and hips bent at 90°. With the right arm resting on the top bent knee, the left arm is bent at 90° at the elbow, starting close to the ground. He takes his left arm and opens up through his torso aiming to get his shoulders close to flat on the ground, trying to keep his hips and knees stacked and in place. Then he returns to the start position. Do the exercise starting on the left side, then repeat on both sides for the prescribed repetitions and sets. This exercise helps to increase chest flexibility and spinal rotation, helpful for the back-swing in golf.
Working with numerous golfing clients, I have discovered that after giving them a program first involving flexibility and balance, they are then able to focus on strength, targeting the weak areas of their swing. Many older golfers are weak in their core area (the abdominal, oblique, and low back muscles) which are used to stabilize the body, create disassociation from the lower body to the upper body, and also generate rotation which is where power comes from in the golf swing.
The second exercise is a core focused exercise involving all of the core muscle groups, stabilization, and also spinal rotation by disassociating the upper body from the lower body. Luanne (age 67) demonstrates a Bosu T-Spine Twist. She is sitting front of center on a Bosu ball with her knees bent at 90° and feet hip-width apart flat on the floor. She tucks her hips and leans back at a 45° angle with the golf club/dowel across her chest and her arms crossed. Without moving her lower body, she rotates her torso, twisting from left to right, repeating for the prescribed reps and sets.
My golfing clients have reported greater range of motion, better stability, and increased distance with their shots. It is extremely important to maintain the flexibility, balance, and strength components of fitness, these are easily lost as a person ages. Of course, not only are these good for golf, but for overall fitness, well-being, and longevity.
By Kammi Hunt
Advanced Fitness Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer
Kammi is the Advanced Fitness Specialist at Leisure World Arizona, a 55+ community in Mesa, Arizona. She holds a degree in Exercise and Sport Science with a Coaching Minor. Certifications include: Certified Personal Training through the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF), TRX Suspension, TRX Rip Training, Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP), Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA).