by Adam Lazarus
The Fittest Player. There were some early pioneers of the combination of fitness and golf, but most agree that legendary golfer Gary Player, an avid fitness enthusiast and even known as “Mr. Fitness”, is credited with starting the healthy golfer trend at the professional level starting in the 1960’s. Although big names like Greg Norman and Tiger Woods have certainly been proponents of fitness and golf, the “Black Knight” remains oneof the games most avid supporters and best examples of fitness on tour.
Not just a walk in the park.
Although course distances vary, the average golf course is approximately 6,700 yards, which is about 3.8 miles of walking – assuming you walk in a straight line. Looking for balls, walking from tee to tee, meandering through the round and even the trips to the beverage cart add up. Factor all that in and it’s about 5 ½ miles of walking every round of golf!
Burn baby burn.
Did you know that according to a recent study by an American sports scientist, the calories burned from an average 18 hole golf round can be staggering? Walking 18 holes burns 1,442 calories, using a push cart burns 1,436 calories. Using a caddie burns about 1,226 calories and riding in a golf cart burns approximately 822 calories per 18 hole round. The study concludes that golfers who walk 36 holes a week will burn around 2,900 calories per week. The threshold of 2,500 calories burned in a week is an important one; according to study, “those who burn 2,500 calories a week improve their overall health by lowering their risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”
Walk, don’t ride.
Researchers in Sweden found that walking 18 holes of golf equated to 40-70 percent of the intensity of a maximum aerobic workout. Cardiologist Dr. Edward A. Palank’s recent study showed that walking golfers show reduced levels of bad cholesterol while keeping good cholesterol steady. Did you know that the research showed that 4 hours of playing golf while walking is comparable to a 45-minute fitness class?
Your back, core muscles and abdomen are all exercised as well as your arms and legs during a typical golf drive. This is because of the motion of the golf swing – the body fully turning back and forth with each swing. On an eighteen-hole course, this means that this motion is repeated at least thirty six times a round unless the player is extremely good. For amateur golfers this number can be much higher, and of course whatever level of golfer you are this number can be a lot higher during a typical practice session at the driving range.
Mind, body, spirit.
Did you know that apart from the apparent physical benefits, playing golf also has some mental health benefits as well? Simply being outdoors on a beautiful day can measurably boost a person’s spirits. Golf can also be a relaxing endeavor, research has shown that this relaxation can lower stress levels significantly. There’s also the camaraderie of golf: spending time with friends and other players and engaging in conversation is always good for the soul.
The most important tip for golfers in Arizona – drinking fluids! Hydration is an imperative component in the successful golfers game and consuming adequate fluids before, during and after playing golf is crucial. Did you know that even a slight decrease in bodyweight due to dehydration can affect your performance and result in fatigue and mental dullness? Experts agree that golfers should consume approximately 8 oz of fluid before their tee time and 4-8 oz of fluid every 15-20 minutes or at every hole. If celebrating with alcoholic beverages is planned at the 19th hole, alternate fluid (nonalcoholic) with alcoholic drinks. Alcohol acts as a diuretic and actually increases fluid loss, so it is not a good choice for the replacement of fluids lost during the round of golf.
Read all about it.
Did you know that Golf Fitness Magazine was golf’s lone magazine dedicated solely to golf fitness? It was created in January 2007 and readership continues to grow as more and more golfers take notice of the importance of being fit for golf.
MD’s agree that golf is certainly fitness friendly and has benefits beyond hand-eye coordination. Doctors agree that cardio, respiratory, muscular strength, endurance, body fat reduction and coordination benefits abound.
While each golfer is unique and has different schedules, food preferences, lifestyles, etc., most fitness experts agree that the ideal menu for golfers would look something like this:
Pre-round: 1 cup oatmeal, 1 banana or 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup skim milk or 1 cup nonfat yogurt, 2 slices whole-wheat toast and 12 ounces of water.
During the round: 12 ounces Sports Drink, 2 tablespoons peanut butter and crackers or 1 piece of fruit or 1 granola or cereal bar.
After the round: 12-18 ounces of water, 3-4 ounces grilled chicken breast, 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup steamed broccoli, 1 cup salad w/ low fat dressing or 1 cup fruit salad.
Ivy League Advice.
A recent article in “Harvard Men’s Health Watch” offered good advice for golfers to avoid golf related injuries. 1) Stretch at least three times a week, paying particular attention to your back, shoulders, and arms. Be sure to warm-up for 10-15 minutes before play. 2) Take lessons. Good technique is your best defense against injuries. 3) Use good equipment including shoes, socks, gloves, and clothing. 4) Spot problems early and treat them aggressively. Ice down aching tissues directly after playing and use the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation) approach to treat more serious problems, and get help from a professional if you don’t improve promptly.
A walk about town.
Did you know that you can walk at many of the local courses in Southern Arizona? Though there are many, some of the best, most walking-friendly courses in Tucson are: the Tucson City Golf Courses (Randoplh, Dell Urich, El Rio, Silverbell, Fred Enke), Crooked Tree, Tucson Country Club, Dorado, Forty Niner, Haven and Rio Rico.