There’s a saying “Golf isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifelong pursuit”, and it might just be the lifelong pursuit to help you on the road to longevity

We are nestled in amongst some of the most beautiful courses in Europe. The iconic 16th hole at The Royal Course, Vale de Lobo, with its stunningly picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean (just don’t pull left). San Lorenzo with its pine forests, ocean views, and Ria Formosa Nature Reserve location. Quinta do Lago and its championship courses. If it’s panoramic views you’re looking for with your game, then the Algarve has them aplenty.

If you can ditch the buggy, then golf is great for physical fitness. The infamous saying claimed by many goes something along the lines of: “to play golf is to spoil an otherwise enjoyable walk”. But we all know the benefits of a good walk, especially if you’re carrying or pulling a golf bag (those things aren’t light!). May I remind you from our previous article on walking, that chalking up a step count of between 6,000 and 9,000 steps a day may be associated with a 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who take less steps. A 2016 scoping review found that golfers take between just over 11,000 and 16,667 steps per 18 holes (just over 6,000 if using a golf cart). Making golf the perfect way to get your steps in and enjoy a good sport (debatable, depending on how you play).

The same review found that golf is a sport that can provide both mental and physical benefits, as well as improve longevity in older adults. The bonus being that golf can be enjoyed by a wide age range and at varying physical intensities, depending on how hilly the course is, and whether you carry those clubs yourself!

Of note is that “golf may improve proprioception, balance, muscle endurance and function particularly in the elderly.” A 2009 Swedish study even found a 40% lower mortality rate and a corresponding five-year increase in life expectancy when they compared 300,818 golfers with non-golfers. Let’s not get too excited about that statistic though as there could be many other factors involved in their longevity but get dusting off your clubs anyway.

Golf is very much a social sport, wherever you play, and building relationships over a round can be beneficial to mental wellbeing and reducing stress (if you don’t get too wound up by the duff shots). And a bit of healthy competition is good every once in a while, right? Plus, you can’t beat time in nature for adding years to your life. Spending time outdoors has been shown to boost mood and reduce anxiety. And, I don’t know about you, but there’s something about whacking that tiny ball down a fairway that helps release any pent-up negative energy!

Get it right
It’s worth knowing that the most common injuries in golfers result from suboptimal swing techniques. Which is why it’s important to train for golf as you would any other sport. Quinta do Lago-based personal trainer, Gabriel Ruivo, works with clients with a range of fitness goals, including golfers.

Performing a golf swing is a complex movement”, says Gabriel. “Your core must generate power, while other structures have to be equally strong to allow the movement to occur, minimising the injury risk, and optimising performance. As a personal trainer, after evaluating the available range of motion in my client, I try to realize their golf ability and training goal.

Gabriel adds, “According to a 2021 systematic review, if you want to increase your club head speed (CHS) and hitting distance (HD), higher degrees of movement specificity should be part of your training program (such as seated cable rotations, medicine ball throws). Although, compound movements (squats, upper body pressing and pulling) should also be included to maximize effectiveness. An 8-week training program seemed to improve CHS in 2.0% to 16.0%, and HD between 1.9% and 10.9%. Of course, individual results will always be influenced by your skill level, age, and personal limitations. But theoretically, injury risk decreases when you have a stronger body, and are more able to deal with the stress that golf can put into your joints.”

Consider this
It’s clear that complimentary exercises alongside your golf game may not only improve your game but also reduce the risk of potential injury. Some key areas to focus on when thinking about a training program are: –

  • Stability
    Golf is a complex interplay of stability and mobility. A good exercise programme will include both, if you over focus on one then imbalance can occur.
  • Coordination
    The golf swing involves coordinated movement from different areas of the body. The more efficient you can make this, the more improved your swing will be.
  • Spinal flexibility
    Improved spinal flexibility, particularly in the thoracic region, may allow for greater rotation in your swing.
  • Core engagement
    As Gabriel mentioned above, golf requires power at the core. Swinging from a weak core can have implications for the rest of the body and may result in a lower power swing.
  • Planes of motion
    Golf involves movement outside of our everyday range. Planes of motion refer to movement of the body, including side-to-side, front to back, and rotation. Think how much rotation happens when you power up that golf swing. Most gym exercises tend to work in one plane of motion, training all three (sagittal, frontal/coronal, transverse) is key.

As with any exercise, there are risks of injury if performed incorrectly. If you’re new to exercise, then seeking the advice of a professional (like Gabriel!) and having them design a training program tailored to your specific needs is always a good idea.
Get in touch with Gabriel on Instagram @gabriel_ruivo_pt or email

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