"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Getting into the golf swing

This low-impact, lifelong sport may be a great technique to exercise, socialize and luxuriate in nature — three aspects linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

Famously described as “a good walk gone bad,” golf is nonetheless a well-liked sport within the United States, played by an estimated 25 million Americans. And one could argue that quite than spoiling a great walk, the sport provides a great way for people of all ages to remain physically energetic and reap other heart-related rewards.

A longtime golf enthusiast, Dr. Mueller often plays twice every week – picking up his clubs and walking all the 18-hole course. That's between 4 and five miles, easily meeting the really useful each day fitness goal of 10,000 steps. His bag of clubs weighs about 20 kilos, which adds a little bit extra effort to his walking. “That way, I don't have to go to the gym as often,” he says.

More reasons to walk

Course walking also permits you to higher appreciate the encompassing nature and fresh air. There's something soothing about being in the midst of all this green space, says Dr. Muller. One of his favorite courses, built on an abandoned phosphate mine in Florida, features rolling hills, small ponds full of fish, and plenty of birds and other wildlife. The walk also gives you time to strategize about your next shot. For serious players, that mental challenge is a component of the sport's appeal — and the relaxed focus it requires also can help reduce stress.

Some courses don't allow golf carts. But in others, vehicles are mandatory. Years ago, Dr. Mueller selected to walk a course that required golf carts and was stopped by a rules enforcement ranger. “I said, 'I'm sorry, sir, but I'm a cardiologist and I'm trying to stop heart disease by exercising. Tell that to your boss.' The ranger checked out me and said, 'You know, I've had bypass surgery, and also you're right, but you've gotten to follow the foundations, so get back within the cart.'

Tee Time Tips for New Golfers

If you're excited about playing golf, see should you can get a friend who plays to take you to a driving range or nine-hole course to point out you the ropes. Taking lessons can also be a great idea. Swinging the golf club will not be intuitive or natural, and you should avoid bad habits.

One downside is cost: When you think about buying a set of clubs and shoes, paying regular green fees, or joining a personal club, golf may be quite expensive. But beginners can lower your expenses by renting clubs or buying used clubs, which run about $150 to $300 for a set. Private courses may be expensive, but the typical price for an 18-hole round at a public golf course is $36. Golf Digest.

Playing from old age

Another advantage of golf is which you can play well into old age, unlike more demanding sports like basketball or tennis. Even should you're not physically capable of walk all the course, hitting the ball works your core and arm muscles. It also challenges your balance because as you swing, your trunk rotates and your weight shifts.

At the American Stroke Association meeting last February, researchers reported the outcomes of a study of nearly 5,900 adults age 65 and older. Those who played golf repeatedly (no less than once a month) were less more likely to die in the course of the 10-year study than non-golfers. But as Dr. Muller notes, people who find themselves healthy enough to play golf produce other reasons to clarify their longevity. “I can't advocate playing golf more aggressively to live longer,” he says. “But golf can certainly provide a way to live a better life.” His father, who lived to be 100, shot in a hole at age 92 (his second time). He attributes his longevity to 2 things: golf for the body and bridge for the mind, says Dr. Muller.

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