Golfing Can Help You Live Longer

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“I found out pretty quickly once I got into American businesses that golf was the only thing other people did and didn’t do, and I learned to play because of that,” says- she.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for Fitzgerald. She found the steep learning curve “embarrassing and intimidating”. But once she got better, she enjoyed it more, so much so that she made golf her full-time career.

In 2013, Fitzgerald founded Black Girls Golf to create a safe space where women and girls can learn, play and connect at all skill levels. She says participation “skyrocketed” in the pandemic as more people sought safer activities to enjoy the outdoors. The Atlanta-based organization now has more than 4,000 members in chapters across the United States, a sign of growing inclusion in a sport traditionally dominated by affluent white men.

“Black women make up less than one percent of the golf industry’s workforce, so a big part of our mission is to introduce girls to the career opportunities available in golf. And for women. There are so many professional benefits, including health and wellness, ”says Fitzgerald.

A longer and healthier life

A 2009 Swedish study suggests that golfers can live longer than non-golfers, up to five years longer. Playing at least once a month may also reduce the risk of premature death in the elderly.

There are several physical health benefits of playing golf regularly, according to Dr. Jacquelyn Turner, assistant professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine. A golfer herself, she says, playing golf can burn up to 2,000 calories walking 18 holes, the equivalent of five miles, depending on the course.

Burning so many calories “gives you a lot of aerobic exercise that can reduce many co-morbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,” says Dr. Turner.

She also points to other benefits of golf, including higher HDL levels – the “good” cholesterol – and stronger abdominal muscles, which are especially important for preventing falls later in life. Being outside in the sun also contributes to exposure to vitamin D.

And playing golf might make you a better candidate for surgery if you need it. As a colorectal surgeon, Dr. Turner must assess the health of patients before planning operations. “If I know a patient has been on the golf course and done 18 holes of golf, guess what? They probably have a good indication of a healthy heart and lung system,” she says.

Beyond the physical benefits

As a busy working mom, Fitzgerald sees golf as a healthy way to disconnect and relax in the great outdoors.

“For me, this has been a huge stress relief, which has helped my mental health so much,” said Fitzgerald. “You kind of forget what is going on in day to day life because most golf courses are so beautiful. And nature can be really serene sometimes, and that helps you calm down and lower your level. of stress.”

Fitzgerald says golf also teaches important skills that carry over into everyday life, such as discipline and self-acceptance. “There are so many parallels to golf in life, you know, hitting a bad shot and being able to let it go,” adds Fitzgerald. “Golf requires you to forgive yourself, to be patient and definitely to focus on the task at hand.”

Playing golf releases hormones that reduce stress and anxiety and can also improve memory, according to Dr. Turner. Research suggests that the social nature of the sport may also contribute to lengthening the lifespan of golfers.

As Fitzgerald can attest, golf could boost your career as well. “Golf can put you in situations where you would never find yourself and next to people you would never have met,” she says, adding that networking on the course could lead to future professional opportunities outside of the golf course. journey.

A sport for life

Low impact and gentle on the joints, golf can be played at any age.

“It’s more mental endurance, finesse and skill than strength and strength, so you can golf a lifetime,” says Fitzgerald.

Dr Turner agrees. “Golf is a good activity for all segments of the population, from children to the elderly,” adding that everyone can benefit from better balance and eye coordination. But before playing, she advises seeing your doctor, especially if you have previous medical issues like cardiovascular disease.

Once you’re medically cleared, Fitzgerald recommends looking for other people who gamble. Not only will they hold you accountable, but you will also find a community to have fun with, which is important for a long and healthy life.

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