A study in the Golf Science Journal showed that playing golf is associated with improved physical health and wellness, and potentially contributes to increased life expectancy. Discover the various scientifically backed mental benefits of playing golf below.
Treating anxiety and depression
Exercise is a proven way to get rid of some mental and emotional problems. 2017 review of studies in Maturitas: an international journal for midlife and beyond health It has been shown that exercise relieves symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.
“We know from many studies that even light exercise like walking for 30 minutes three times a week can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety,” says Sheenie Ambardar, a psychiatrist in Los Angeles who works with older adults. “In addition, being outside while playing golf exposes people to natural light, which helps maintain a regular circadian rhythm and aids in serotonin production, which in turn reduces symptoms of depression,” she says.
Golfers spend many hours outdoors — and time outside boosts mood, especially for seniors, according to a study in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In fact, researchers reported that older adults who spent at least 30 minutes outdoors each day were more likely to have fewer depressive symptoms than those who spent that time indoors.
Increase social interaction
“One of the reasons golf is so popular among older adults is the social and psychological benefits it provides,” Dr. Ambardar says. “Being around other people in a friendly, fun, and low-risk environment has many mental health benefits.”
This feature may be particularly powerful for retired people who no longer have that guaranteed daily contact with others that the workplace provides.
“As people age, they become more socially isolated, which can increase their chances of developing depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline,” Dr. Ambardar says. “Golf provides a great way to combat these risks because it is usually played around other people, providing a natural opportunity for camaraderie and human connection – which we know improves mental health.”
“It’s a very social game,” Cooper adds. “If you’re looking to meet new people, that’s great. You shut down when you’re not having conversations with other people. But when you play golf with other people, hear their ideas, and talk about your grandkids, you see that other people also have problems. You can kind of From admitting that getting old is hard sometimes. We turn the page, we don’t work much, and it can be hard.”
By starting or returning to golf slowly (and accepting your skill level), your confidence can increase. “Golf is a matter of understanding your balance and your athleticism,” Cooper says. “I try to make every student the best at what they come with.”
And playing regularly, which can lead to improvement, also helps boost confidence. “For golf, playing golf daily is better than playing weekly, and four times a week is better than once a week,” Cooper says. But be realistic in your expectations – “there is no accelerating path.” And don’t be afraid to do something wrong, he says. It’s all part of the learning process.
Golfers must (to some extent) develop a quality of patience—with themselves, others, and the game (unlike tennis or pickle ball, golf moves at a slow pace). Cooper says many novice players quit because they didn’t think they were improving fast enough, and miss the thrill of a breakthrough in their skill level.
“If you play golf, you shouldn’t be in a hurry or expect instant satisfaction,” Cooper says. “You’re just going to go too fast.” Cooper adds that when he sees angry people on the golf course, it’s likely because they’ve brought fears from the outside world into the game. “I think there are a lot of things you can discover about yourself when you play golf. If you are not patient, this is a skill you have to develop.
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