Get into Olympic shape… with golf?!

How good were the Olympics?! For me it was honestly 2 solid weeks of nerve shredding, jaw dropping excitement that kept me wanting more and more. It wasn’t just the highly anticipated events such as the men’s 100m or women’s heptathlon that kept me entertained, it was the ‘lesser’ sports, the sports that I wouldn’t normally watch that helped the bbc dominate my TV. It was my personal favourite moment of the games that has inspired this article; Andy Murray winning gold in the tennis. Now before the games, tennis and football were the 2 sports I openly believed had no place at the Olympics. However, the passion Andy Murray played with changed my mind (something the footballers again let themselves down with).

How does this tie in with golf? Well, golf is a future Olympic sport, and another that I had reservations about. Now I’m a big fan of golf, I played it as a child growing up and have a tradition of watching the US masters with my younger sister. The thing that concerns me is that golf is perceived more of a hobby for middle aged men and doesn’t have the immediate excitement of a lot of the sports that caught everyone’s attention during London 2012. So this is my effort to not only educate people, but to raise it as a viable fitness option for new players to try between now and Rio 2016.

For those of you wavering or sitting on the fence, here are the facts; During an 18 hole round of golf, players who carry their own bag will (on average) burn around 1400 calories and walk between 3 to 5 miles. For those golfers that decide to use a buggy and effectively drive around the course, they will still burn upwards of 800 calories per round, albeit with a more limited cardio impact of walking between half a mile and 1 mile.

These are some quite significant, and perhaps surprising, figures. 1400 calories is basically the equivalent to doing a 2 hour stint on a cross trainer or an hour and a half circuit class!

Golf is no longer seen in the fitness world as a hobby. It is becoming recognised for the health and fitness benefits it offers as a competitive and social sport. I’ve just mentioned the calorie burning potential to a round of golf, but there are numerous other benefits we should also consider; Balance, coordination, flexibility, muscular endurance, maths. Ok so maths is perhaps going a bit far, but the others are clear. During the swing a golfer must maintain balance. To do this, they use muscles in their body to stabilise centre of gravity. It’s not just arms that control the power of the swing; it is also the muscles around the core and legs that flex to control the movement. Golf requires lots of dynamic movements, which also assist with improving flexibility and maintaining muscular freedom.

As you can see, it isn’t just the walking that helps make golf a viable fitness option, it is the actual playing itself. This means; even if you don’t have the time or inclination to spend a lovely 4 hours walking round 18 holes of golf, popping yourself down to the driving range is worthwhile too. At the driving range you will obviously hit more balls, thus increasing the muscular endurance side to golf.
In the end, the moral of the story is simple; whether you are enjoying golf as an Olympic sport, a hobby, or as a part of your healthy fitness living programme… Stay away from the 19th hole!

Author: Darran Law

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