The Health Benefits of Golf – Is Golf Good Exercise?

First and foremost, any exercise is better than no exercise. Secondly, exercise is a whole lot easier to accomplish when it is enjoyable. This can differ from person to person but golf has to be hands down one of the best ways to get some air in your lungs and enjoy a bit of a cardiovascular workout while improving your relaxation and mental state.

Sure, golf can be frustrating at times but that is the nature of the game. If it was easy it would not be as rewarding. It does, however, offer a great deal of mental and physical benefits for all that engage in the game.

The best part is, it is equally rewarding for beginners as it is for top players. What other sports can a beginner compete on a relatively equal and competitive footing with someone experienced in the sport?

Does Golf Equal Exercise?

Well, a lot depends on how you play the game. The bottom line, however, is yes, a resounding yes! No matter how you choose to play the game, golf is a good exercise that is good for the body and mind.  While walking the course will naturally offer a better workout, even riding from shot to shot in a golf cart is a better option than sitting in front of a TV all day.

To Walk or Take a Cart


In the past, golf was generally a decent walk but golf carts have become extremely popular. Some clubs even insist on them. The truth is that they allow for faster play and this means more green fees. They also allow for a larger field as older people or those that have difficulty walking are still able to play a round of golf with the assistance of a cart.

Walking a course will naturally relate to more distance walked and more effort, therefore, better exercise. Many also argue that walking the course can improve your performance and therefore your score.

How Much Exercise Can I Get From a Round of Golf?

Golf offers both cardiovascular and strength exercise. A full round normally equates to around 3.6 to 3.8 miles, depending on where and how you play.  Granted, again, a cart user will walk a bit less but they will still get plenty of exercise and certainly more than you would sitting on the couch.

Remember that most courses involve a number of hills and inclines that increases the intensity of the walk. Beginners probably get a bit more of a walk than the top players as they do not get to walk in straight lines as often.

This compares well with many other forms of exercise including swimming, jogging or cycling. As you are focusing on the game and enjoying the company of others, you will barely realize you are getting a good workout.  It does not feel like typical exercise and is generally more enjoyable.

Golf not only gets your heart and lungs going but also uses many of the big muscles. It also uses a few you did not even know existed. It really is a full workout. Swinging a club does not take major effort but 80 to 100 swings in a round is sure to work multiple muscles along the way.

Not to forget that you are lifting your bag many times during the day and various other activities. Added together these certainly amount to a fair amount of exercise.

What Are The Other Benefits of Golf?

Improved Balance

Balance is important for day to day activities and helps to improve your core muscles. Golf is good at working the buttocks, lower back, and abdominal muscles. This will improve your balance and give you greater strength, mobility, and flexibility.  Good core exercise will also take the strain off other muscles and reduce back pain.

Balance can be challenging to improve and the dynamics of a round of golf certainly help in this regard. This is particularly important as you get older. Any exercise that improves balance is beneficial.

Mental Health Benefits

While physical health is important, another benefit of golf is that it will improve your mental health. While golf can be extremely frustrating, the exercise, rewards of the game, the fresh air and the company of others all combine to improve mental health and wellness.

Golf requires you to focus on multiple aspects throughout the round. It requires a good amount of thinking and decision making. This will help to keep you mentally sharp. One has to make decisions on distance, club selection, strategy, course and weather conditions, techniques and a host of other factors.  While doing this you need to keep track of your score and what is happening with the other golfers playing with you.

Relaxing and exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. While most exercise will help in this regard, golf is one of the more effective ways to achieve a good body and mind workout. The vitamin D one gets outdoors is another plus and improves health.

Social Activity

Humans are social creatures and human contact is important. Golf is a great way to do this irrespective of age, sex or background.  Playing a round of golf is a great way to spend time with those you know or meet new people. This interaction is invaluable for our wellbeing.

Will You Burn Calories Playing Golf?

The simple answer is yes, you will burn roughly 1,400 to 1,600 calories during a round of golf if you walk. If you use a cart you will burn roughly 800 to 900.


While this will not make you super fit and slim it is certainly better than no exercise. The best part is, you get to enjoy yourself, spend time outdoors and appreciate the camaraderie of your fellow players at the same time.

If combined with other exercise and a healthy diet, golf will help to keep you supple, fit and trim.

Another benefit is that it can be played by those that would have difficulty with high-impact exercise such as running, tennis and other sports. While many have to quit a number of sports as they age, most are able to continue enjoying golf for many years.

Getting cardiovascular exercise and burning calories has been proven to improve overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and a range of other conditions.  It is also linked to an improved life span.  When combined with the relaxation and mental benefits of golf it is pretty clear that it is a healthy sport.

Final Thoughts

The health benefits, both physical and mental, are impossible to dispute. Getting up, getting out and into the fresh air is good for you.  While the benefits of the exercise, both cardiovascular and strength will help burn calories and improve fitness, the many other benefits such as the social and mental aspects make the experience even better.

The risk of injury is low and most people can play way into their golden years.  Young or old, golf is good for your health.

Nick is the founder of GolfSpan and an avid golfer. He's not quite a pro but has over 15 years of experience playing and coaching golfers worldwide. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience when it comes to choosing the right golf gear and finding the right setup for your game.

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