Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can Playing Golf Help You Lose Weight? Is Golf Really Exercise?

Today's post is written by Matthew Papa, a biologist who enjoys writing articles on sports, health, and diet based on scientific findings. In his website, devoted to best weight loss programs, he provides information on a wide range of topics, from Medifast discount coupons to the Strax rejuvenation lap band procedure.

So...what about the questions posed in the title?

The answer is yes--golf can indeed help you achieve your fitness goals and even lose weight.

Getting people to increase the amount of physical activity they get on a regular basis is one of the primary goals in the on-going fight against obesity and the serious health conditions associated with it -- including stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a wide range of debilitating muscle, joint, and bone problems. For health care professionals, the search is on to identify and encourage more physical activities that people of all ages will actually enjoy doing and therefore be more likely to perform consistently.

One fitness program that has caught on quite well recently is the "10,000 Steps” challenge, which involves encouraging people to wear an inexpensive pedometer all day every day. It can be quite a revelation to see how many (or how few) steps you take each day without even thinking about exercise. For many people, the daily record the pedometer provides is a highly effective motivator, encouraging them to make minor adjustments in many of their activities to increase that total incrementally every day. The 10,000 Steps program has been a great success, in part because it is so easy to do. It requires no expensive equipment or special facilities. All you need is the pedometer. Studies have shown that people who attain the 10,000-step goal are more likely to meet the standard recommended levels of daily physical activity.

Once you recognize that walking really can be a worthwhile form of exercise, it's not a stretch to see that golf too (a "good walk spoiled") could and should be regarded more seriously as a form of exercise that millions of people already partake in and enjoy. The classic stereotype of a bunch of portly duffers tootling around in golf carts doesn't really suggest strenuous physical activity. However, the growing popularity of golf on TV and the celebrity status of the top professional golfers have done a good deal to dispel some of this stale imagery. There are in fact quite a few stellar athletes in the sport, and nary a golf cart in sight on TV.

Golf is in fact a hugely popular sport that for most people does (or can) involve a great opportunity for extensive walking exercise. The average 18 hole round of golf involves navigating approximately 4.4 miles of ground -- not an inconsiderable distance by any means! So the question arises, how does it fit in with the 10,000 Steps goal, for instance?

That’s what physical therapist Sandra Kobriger and her colleagues set out to determine. Their findings were published in the Mayo Clinical Proceedings as "The Contribution of Golf to Daily Physical Activity Recommendations: How Many Steps Does It Take to Complete a Round of Golf?" (Who ever said all scientific research has to be obscure?) Kobringer and her team recruited 42 healthy adult golfers -- 12 men and 30 women — who agreed to play three 18 hole rounds of golf at 3 public golf courses in Rochester, MN, carrying their own clubs or using a pull/push cart for them. The golfers were provided with electronic pedometers that were calibrated and worn in the most reliable and consistent manner.

The study results demonstrated that almost all the participating golfers took well more than 10,000 steps to complete each 18 hole round. The mean number of steps across all three courses was actually 11,948. There was no significant variance between courses or by age or gender of the participants. Obviously, anyone who completes 18 holes of golf is well on his or her way to exceeding the 12,500 step-per-day level that qualifies a person as "highly active."

A game of golf on a lovely Saturday morning in some beautiful park-like setting doesn't provide the same kind of physical workout as a 5-mile run, a racquetball duel, or a basketball game. However, health experts and researchers have come around to the view that many less intense forms of exercise can also yield real health and fitness benefits in the battle against being overweight and obesity -- and are a lot more engaging and accessible for many people. Sandra Kobriger and her colleagues have the evidence -- a nice round of golf would be a great way to get your 10,000 Steps this weekend! Just stay away from the golf carts.


Lindsay said...

Hmm, I recognize this guest poster!

Of course golf can help people lose weight, at least if we ditch the golf carts, right? I had no idea the average 18-hole round of golf is about 10,000 steps or even more.

By the way, I ordered my photo golf ball markers last week from Photo Ball Maker. Can't wait to see how they turn out!

Apryl DeLancey said...

You do - did he guest over with you also?

I'd love to hear how your PBMs come out - they're a cool group!

Lindsay said...

Haven't gotten the markers yet, but I'll let you know when I get them.