How Golf Can Transform Your Mental Health And Increase Your Life Expectancy

Looking for a sport or hobby to positively impact your mental health? Well, it seems golf may be one of the best options for you. A survey by the Golf Travel Center conducted a study in which 98% of participants said golf helped them relieve stress AND improve their mental health.

The sport is low-impact, social, and can also improve your confidence and self-esteem, with a 2009 Swedish study discovering that golf might even increase your life expectancy by five years.

According to data compiled by the National Golf Foundation, 2020 recorded a total of 24.8 million golfers in the US, an increase of 500,000 from 2019, marking the largest net rise in 17 years, Golf Digest reported in April 2021.

It’s no surprise that more people have been taking up golf, and with the PGA tour for 2022 happening this weekend (Sept 15-18), it’s likely more people will take an interest in the sport.

A man taking a swing on a golf course.
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An April 2021 study published in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine stated that: “Golf can provide health-enhancing physical activity. Regular physical activity is associated with physical/mental health, immune system, and longevity benefits.”

Haidan Smith, the Director of International Trade at SurprizeShop, a highly reputable retailer of women’s golfing accessories and apparel, has compiled a list of several reasons your readers should hit the green.

1. The Social Nature

The aforementioned study found that a “sense of belonging and life satisfaction significantly improved when golfing restrictions were relaxed after the first [COVID-19] lockdown in the UK.”

Smith said golfing can be a great way to meet new individuals, adding: “If you have just moved somewhere new and you’re struggling to meet new individuals, there is no better place than the clubhouse to start. Whether you want to discuss the latest PGA events with someone at the bar or you need the club to set you up with a new team, this place can offer it all. Trying to get to know your workmates better? Why not ask if they fancy a game, or if they ‘d like to try a new course down the road?

“You can even foster healthy competition and set challenges for both yourself and your friends. Alternatively, introverts might find that playing golf solo is a great way to be around people without any pressure to socialize – a task that is sometimes difficult to achieve!”

2. Stress Relief

Golf is a great stress reliever; you spend time outside, listening to birds, spending time with friends, and concentrating on the game, rather than your daily concerns.

Smith said: “Being in the great outdoors naturally has a multitude of mental health benefits, including naturally lowering your anxiety and reducing the effects of depression. While you might not think golf is a good workout – a good game never feels like one – the endorphins released by the low-impact exercise not only reduce pain, but provide relief for emotional stress.

In addition, If you feel frustrated and want to get your aggression out, picking up a golf club and hitting a ball as far as you can is one of the greatest ways to relax.”

Sean Gay, the founder of Sober Golfers Society, said in a statement: “Golf is the most powerful therapy for men and women to talk about problems in an open and friendly setting. You can’t beat walking for 4 hours in nature, having a laugh, playing golf with fellow club members, and just having a release from that exhausting week at work.

3. Better Sleep

Exercise can play a key role in improving sleep. Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, the medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, said that based on available studies, “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality, “according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website.

The combination of fresh air and exercise that golfing offers can help you sleep better at night and “the better your sleep, the better your golf,” said Smith from SurpizeShop, adding that “studies have shown that a bad night’s rest can actually raise your disability.”

There are even hotels dedicated to the concept of ‘Golf, Sleep & Dine’ – the ultimate trio for the perfect relaxing weekend away.

Women golfing on a course.
Two women holding golf clubs while watching another woman take a swing on a course.
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4. Dose of Vitamin D

An estimated one billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, were reported to have a deficiency of vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin which we can get from being outdoors in the sun, according to an April 2012 study, in the peer – reviewed Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics.

This deficiency was especially pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people leaving their homes less than they did before due to illness or to minimize the risk of infection. Golfing outdoors can naturally help replenish your vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is especially important for the absorption of calcium, one of the key building blocks for strong bones.

The US Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health explains: “Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect you from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break.

Our immune system also needs vitamin D to fight off “invading bacteria and viruses,” the office said.

Low levels of vitamin D are concurrent with several mental health impacts, including depression, seasonal affective disorder, and schizophrenia – so make sure to plan your longer games for a sunny day!”

5. Boosting Self Esteem

Regularly playing golf in conjunction with a good diet can consequently allow you to shed the pounds and become more confident. In conjunction with the social nature of the sport you’ll be making new friends and looking your best in no time – just make sure not to celebrate too hard with calorie-packed pints!

A South Korean study published in March 2021 in the peer-reviewed journal Physical Culture and Sport Studies and Researchfound that even screen golf (playing golf on a simulated digital golf course screen) can “provide people with disabilities opportunities for positive life experiences through sport participation.”

The study, which looked at the effect of screen golf participation on various psychosocial factors (including self-esteem) among people with and without disabilities, found there was “a more positive effect on self-esteem and life satisfaction for people without disabilities with screen golf experience than for those without any screen golf experience.”

Smith said: “The low impact nature of golf means it is gentle on joints and muscles, making it great for those trying to find an exercise routine that feels easy but fun. The sport is engaging, requiring you to focus your efforts on the ball and concentrate on how you’ll get your next hole-in-one.”

The Fortinet Championship of the PGA Tour continues this weekend at the North Course of the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California.