Golfing Can be Good for You If Done Correctly

Because golf is a leisurely sport, many people don’t think of it as promoting heart health. Conversely, since it is easygoing, injuries are believed to be rare. The August issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch debunks these myths and advises readers how to benefit the most from their golf game.

Golf can be good for your health and safe for your heart. These health benefits don’t come from swinging your club, but from walking. Walking an average course for a round of golf can be as much as four miles. If you walk 18 holes three to five times a week, you’ll get an optimal amount of endurance exercise for your heart. If you pull your clubs or carry them, you’ll burn more calories per round, and benefit even more.

The August issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch warns golfers of the likelihood of injuries, which is greatest in older players and infrequent players. Because a golf swing involves the whole body, any part of the body can be injured in the course of play. Common injuries include shoulder problems like rotator cuff tendonitis, hand and wrist injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, “trigger finger,” as well as elbow inflammation. Back muscle strains are also common and some players can experience serious back injuries. Golfers can also develop strains, sprains, and tendonitis of the knees, ankles and feet.

The August issue offers advice for avoiding injuries:

  • 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.
  • Take lessons. Good technique is your best defense against injuries.
  • Use good equipment including shoes, socks, gloves, and clothing.
  • Spot problems early and treat them aggressively. Ice down aching tissues directly after playing. 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.

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http://www.health.harvard.edu

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