Select Page

Exercise and Golf: Don’t Sweat It

by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD

 

The leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease is a lack of exercise. As we age, the importance of regular physical activity becomes even more apparent. However, for many golf enthusiasts, the traditional approach to the game doesn’t exactly qualify as exercise – especially when you’re riding in a golf cart. So, how can we combine the joys of golf with the benefits of a real workout? Let’s explore some options.

Walking the Course

The most straightforward answer is to walk the course. Walking not only adds an exercise element to your game but also allows you to savor the beauty of the golf course. However, it’s worth noting that not all golf courses permit walking, as they often rely on cart rentals for revenue. Additionally, carrying your clubs throughout the round can be physically demanding.

Enter the Push Cart

For those who prefer not to carry their clubs, using a push cart is a viable solution. It not only lightens the load but can also provide some workout, particularly if the course is hilly. Pushing a cart can be an excellent form of exercise, but it might not be the most suitable option for older golfers, who often have more time to enjoy the sport.

The Electric Push Golf Cart Solution

Fortunately, there’s an ideal solution to this dilemma: electric push golf carts. These modern devices come in various models, ranging from motorized carts that you guide via controls on the handle to carts that autonomously follow your every move on the golf course. I happen to own one of these remarkable devices, specifically the Axglo E3 Follow/Remote Electric Golf Caddy, which I purchased from motogolf.com.

The beauty of these electric carts is that they follow you as if you were taking a leisurely walk, staying a few feet behind. However, there’s a caveat: they won’t detect someone who inadvertently comes between you and your cart, a feature available in more expensive models equipped with cameras for such contingencies. These carts can handle uphill terrain, but exercise caution when near slopes or water hazards.

One minor issue to be aware of is that rough terrain can occasionally dislodge the battery, necessitating reinsertion and restart. My device, proudly made in Canada, has performed admirably thus far. While I can’t vouch for the servicing process, it has allowed me to enjoy a satisfying and exercise-filled round of golf.

Swinging for Health

Now, let’s consider the golf swing itself. While not a real workout, swinging the club, especially during a powerful drive, may provide some exercise benefits, notably related to nitric oxide (NO). This is where things get a bit technical, but research suggests that vigorous exercise can stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which can benefit blood vessels and help with coronary heart disease. Could a golf swing generate enough NO to be beneficial? It’s a question that warrants further research, especially in the context of different clubs and swing intensities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, golf can indeed meet some of the basic exercise recommendations, provided you opt to walk the course. For older golfers or those who prefer a less strenuous approach, investing in an electric golf cart can allow you to enjoy your game while still incorporating a substantial walk into your routine. So, the next time you hit the links, remember that golf doesn’t have to be all about the swing – it can also be a refreshing form of exercise, and you won’t even break a sweat.

References

Lee DH, Rezende LFM, Joh HK, Keum N, Ferrari G, Rey-Lopez JP, Rimm EB, Tabung FK, Giovannucci EL. Long-Term Leisure-Time Physical Activity Intensity and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort of US Adults. Circulation. 2022 Aug 16;146(7):523-534. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.058162. Epub 2022 Jul 25. PMID: 35876019; PMCID: PMC9378548.

Mu X, Liu S, Fu M, Luo M, Ding D, Chen L, Yu K. Associations of physical activity intensity with incident cardiovascular diseases and mortality among 366,566 UK adults. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2022 Dec 13;19(1):151. doi: 10.1186/s12966-022-01393-y. PMID: 36514169; PMCID: PMC9745930.

Bull, FC; Al-Ansari, SS; Biddle, S; Borodulin, K; Buman, MP; Cardon, G.; Carty, C.; Chaput, JP.; Chastin, S.; Chou, R.; et al. World Health Organization 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Br. J. Sports Med. 2020, 54, 1451–1462. 

Tsukiyama Y, Ito T, Nagaoka K, Eguchi E, Ogino K. Effects of exercise training on nitric oxide, blood pressure and antioxidant enzymes. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2017 May;60(3):180-186. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.16-108. Epub 2017 Apr 7. PMID: 28603344; PMCID: PMC5463976.