How Golf Can Prevent Obesity

Obesity and the prevention of obesity are hot topics at the moment, especially in view of the alarming increase in the percentage of the population suffering from this particular health issue. Recent figures suggest that as many as one-third of the population of the United States is technically obese. More than three quarters of Americans are not meeting the basic recommended activity levels and one quarter are completely sedentary. In the UK the figure was 22% in 2012, a figure that has quadrupled in the last 25 years. Obesity has been described as a global epidemic.


Obesity is a serious health issue and can lead to a range of problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and even cancer. The best way to prevent becoming overweight is by eating healthily and exercising regularly. If you are maintaining a healthy diet and are physically active, your weight should not be a serious concern. And luckily for all us duffers, golf is an activity that has many physical benefits and is suitable for all ages.

The two most obvious attractions of golf are exercise and social interaction. With the ever-increasing number of technical gadgets, the temptation is almost overwhelming to stay indoors and spend countless hours in front of our computer screens. If we need exercise, there are the computer simulated games or home gym options. Of course, there is no comparison between playing golf on your computer or similar device and the actual physical experience. Scientific evidence suggests that by playing golf regularly (without using a golf cart!) you can reduce your cholesterol level. If you have high cholesterol, it can lead to atherosclerosis. This can cause a narrowing of the coronary arteries and eventually heart disease, angina or heart attacks.


Children are increasingly vulnerable to the risk of obesity. They have been brought up in the computer age and a large proportion of their entertainment can be found in the home. They need to be educated to be aware of the dangers of inactivity and encouraged to take up healthy and active outdoor pursuits. Middle-aged people are also susceptible to becoming overweight. They reach a certain age and feel perhaps it is ok to “let themselves go” a little. This can lead to serious health issues in later life.

Taking Real Steps To Beat Obesity

To play golf, you do not have to be super fit but you cannot expect to play18 holes without some discomfort if you are not used to walking further than from your front door to the car. Golf was once famously called “A good walk spoiled” by Mark Twain. If you are not in reasonable physical condition, you will not enjoy the walk or the golf! If you are in poor shape, you will need to take measures to improve your condition if it is your intention to play regularly. There is a world of difference between smashing a few golf balls on the driving range and actually playing a full round of golf.

The importance of walking should not be underestimated in the fight against obesity. If youngsters are brought up with regular physical activity they will grow up appreciating the need for it. If a child is allowed to become seriously overweight through lack of exercise by the age of ten, very few of them will go on to be regularly involved in sport. You may struggle to sell the idea of a three hour walk to teenagers but golf has much more to offer than that. This is not just about promoting golf, it is also a way to save huge expense on health bills and improve the living standards of potentially millions of people.

Golf Fitness Exercises

Any good golf instructor will tell you that your physical condition is fundamental to your enjoyment of the game. Little attention is paid to this aspect in the coverage of professional golf but the overwhelming majority will now have a fitness regime or personal trainer. Until relatively recent times, professional golfers rarely felt it necessary to include gym work in their fitness programs. Although golf is a very different discipline to other sports, their living depends on being in the best physical shape to apply their skills on the golf course.

They achieve this with quite a rigid daily program. They will have been advised on how to develop their fitness program so that it has maximum benefits to their golf game. It will develop strength and flexibility specific to their requirements. Lee Westwood was asked about his fitness and gym work and he said “he thought it important to develop more powerful positions within his swing.” Of course there is still plenty of work to be done on the driving range or the putting greens but regular swing drills and exercises keep them finely tuned to perform to the best of their abilities. The mechanics of the golf swing along with strength and balance all need to be addressed. Rory Mcilroy was recently quoted as saying that his gym work helped stay more compact within his swing with less moving parts and yet still stay flexible. The benefits of these exercises are improved fitness, greater stamina and flexibility. Couple this with the natural benefits of walking and you have a perfect antidote to obesity!

In fact, many professionals would put the correct fitness program ahead of buying new equipment or tinkering with your golf swing in terms of priority. Even a typical “Sunday golfer” can improve their game by following a sensible fitness schedule. Improving your cardiovascular fitness will help to keep you strong towards the end of a long round. Building up your muscular strength will add power and create better balance during your swing.

Golf – Cost Effective Health Benefits

If you are thinking of taking up golf but are concerned about the cost or the sheer effort involved, it is worth breaking these factors down. If you’ve gone so far that you are seriously thinking of taking up golf then it can be safely assumed that you like the sport. Whether it is the social aspect, the health benefits or just the sheer enjoyment, you already have plenty of motivation to pursue it.

The cost will depend on just how dedicated you intend to become. You really don’t have to go out and buy a new set of clubs or pay full membership at your local golf club. You can play as a day member and try different courses, perhaps have a few lessons and see how it goes. It is worth remembering that the benefits to your health will last a lifetime. If you decide not to take up golf, you will presumably be looking for other means of enjoying a social life as well as keeping fit. Put these things together and golf does not look nearly so expensive.

If you want to take it to another level, there are special golf fitness programs designed to make you better prepared for the physical demands of the game. As with any fitness program, you would start off relatively gently and build up your workload as you develop strength and stamina. These workouts can be modified to suit players of all levels. Although golf is not a contact sport, the repetitive bending and twisting required for your golf swing does put extra strain on parts of the body. Sensible measures such as off-season training and making sure that you have a simple warm up routine before you begin your round can minimise these risks.

Golf may not be for everyone but there is no denying the advantages inherent within the game. We cannot all take up soccer or even tennis but most of us will be able to give golf a try. With obesity established as a serious health issue, golf should be promoted as a healthy pursuit suitable for all age groups.

John Chandley

John is a fitness expert and golf player who is starting to explore golf.

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