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Can Golf Help Improve Your Mental Health?

Stress is all around us, whether out in the business world, a stay-at-home parent, or retired.  There always seems to be something that interferes with a calm feeling of mental health.  Despite all the jokes and skits, golf is one of the best ways to achieve a good attitude.


Starting with the obvious, just moving around is a good mental stimulus.  Doing it outdoors in pleasant surroundings of grass and trees only enhances the experience.  Golf helps your arm muscles, stretches the back, and aids in hand-eye coordination.  Doctors will tell you that walking is one of the best exercises around, and golf gives you plenty of that.

So, when you have a chance to get your body into shape, your mental health improves along with it.  Studies show that this sport can improve confidence, self-esteem and lower anxiety. 

Mental Health 

There are groups that do studies and some of the results show that cognitive and focus abilities are strengthened with playing golf.  It also has shown improvement in emotional and spiritual attitudes. 

Mental health professionals often look at the quantity and quality of personal relationships.  In that respect, golf is a wonderful way to meet new people who have similar interests and to develop new friendships and acquaintances.  It fosters conversation and joviality.

The self-management skills that are developed during golf translate into better decision making.  The sport requires the individual to plan and execute precise movements, which help in business decisions as well as handling daily activities and situations. 

Social Interaction

Simple gestures like handshakes or a pat on the back stimulates the body to produce dopamine.  This is a “feel good” sensation.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter; it sends chemical messages throughout the body.  It helps us recognize pleasure and plays a major role in our ability to think ahead and plan.  It also reduces the sensation of pain.  So those little aches from sitting around start to disappear.

Golf is for everyone at almost any age.  Consider an intergenerational outing where everyone can be electronically unplugged at least for a short while.  It can be a time to share stories and tell jokes.  Conversations don’t need to be deep or long, but the simple act of speaking with one another can do a lot toward understanding between families and friends and communities.

On the course it is very common to be paired with another golfer or pair, especially at busy times.  This means you have the opportunity to meet someone you would not normally be in contact with.  This can mean a new acquaintance or two.  At the end of the course, you can stop at the clubhouse and enjoy a cooling lemonade or other appropriate beverage.  This is also an opportunity to have a discussion with someone new.

Golf is hardly solitary and by interacting with others you gain a fresh perspective on various subjects, and that can only lead to a strong mental health attitude. 

Less Anxiety

Everyone has problems and worries.  By directing our attention to something completely different, like golf, allows the mind to release.  Frequently the solution seems to appear from nowhere.  Adding social aspect also provides a release.  It is estimated that playing golf can reduce anxiety as much as 6%.   A Swedish study conducted in 2009 revealed that golfers have a longer life expectancy by about five years.  

Depression Relief

Depression is a serious mental health issue.  When it becomes chronic or severe, it takes serious work to combat its effects.  Studies reveal that “moderate exercise” can help with the effects of this disease. 

The nature of the sport means that the player needs concentration.  This is an aid to forgetting about problems and helping support relaxation.  The physical act of hitting the ball can release tension and the terrain can help support a sense of calm and unity with the natural elements that surround the course. 

Frequently depression is accompanied by overweight.  The exercise of golf helps burn calories that should result in some physical weight loss.  This is an encouragement to many people who are in the throes of depression, giving them a sense of accomplishment and the ability to resolve at least some problems.  The physicality of golf will also increase endorphins, which are shown to help combat the chemical imbalance of a depressed person.

Sleep Benefits

With insufficient or interrupted sleep, you are more likely to find it difficult to concentrate and to perform at your peak during the work day or other scheduled activities.  Sleep deprivation can also affect your ability to deal with stress, cause forgetfulness, and become disagreeable. 

With golf you have the benefit of a physical workout and the mental diversion that will help improve any sleep disorders.  The combination of fresh air, exercise, and interacting with others will provide much of the necessary elements.  Try a round of golf twice a week for a month and see if you don’t sleep more soundly.  A better rest will give you a better outlook and improve your mental health.

Less Stress

When President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while in office, his doctors recommended golf.  This had multiple effects for better health.  The good walk was beneficial to stimulate his pulmonary and cardiac responses and added an element of physical training to burn some calories without exhaustion.  

The act of hitting the ball helps to relieve any stress build up.  The competitive nature of the game helps with critical thinking.  It also shows a significant link between thinking, vision, and hearing.  By combining all the elements of a game of golf, you can ease the stress in your life.

While more than half a century has passed since the Eisenhower administration, doctors are still recommending the anaerobic benefits of golf.

So, whether it is spending time at the driving range, a short 9 holes or a regular game with your buddies, golf is one of the best ways to improve your mental health and outlook on life.  If you need more encouragement, check with us at Back2Basics Golf.  We will be happy to help you on your way.


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