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The Truth About Walking the Golf Course

This is a guest blog post from Greg D'Andrea @ See the full article here.

Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day meets recommended standards for health maintenance and wellness. But what about golf? Could golf be considered exercise? Well a research paper now puts to rest this age-old question…as long as you’re walking instead of riding.

Now I realize if you walk the golf course, there’s no place to put your beer. I get it. I’ve been guilty of using the cart as a portable keg too. It’s so much easier to ride out there – no long walks between tees; no feeling like a mountain goat; no fatigue over the last few holes.

Besides, when your doctor tells you to get more exercise, he doesn’t mean to go play golf – at least my doctor didn’t: “Golf is stop-and-go, Greg. You don’t get enough of a workout walking a little, stopping to hit a ball and then walking a little more.”

But golfing has got to count for something, doesn’t it? We’ve posed this question before, in this post, a while ago. But now we actually have some proof that walking the golf course is not only healthy, but it’s also a good way to get some exercise.

A published study entitled “Physical Activity Parameters for Walking Golf Participation: An Analysis of Volume and Intensity” from Mark D. Peterson (Department of Exercise and Wellness at Arizona State University) has provided us some interesting findings.

Mr. Peterson set-out to prove that the volume and intensity of activity while walking 18-holes could be pinpointed by using modern technology. He began by recruiting healthy men between 18 and 30 years of age at a local, average-sized (6,605 yards) golf course in Mesa, AZ. Each participant was required to walk 18-holes (from the same tee-box) while wearing an accelerometer, a pedometer and a heart-rate monitor. In addition, each participant had a GPS logging device attached to the back of their hats.

Each device recorded a different variable for the study. For example, the accelerometer recorded the “intensity of ambulatory physical activity,” which could then be measured against established standardized categories such as sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous activity. Meanwhile, the pedometer was used to calculate total steps taken during the round and the GPS measured total distance traveled. The heart monitor measured heartbeats per minute.

Mr. Peterson then took the data he had collected and measured it against recommended standards for health maintenance and wellness: “It has been recommended for health maintenance and wellness that individuals attempt to accumulate 7,000 and 13,000 steps, and/or 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, on all or most days of the week.”

Mr. Peterson’s data revealed walking the course EXCEEDED these recommendations.

On average, data showed the participants’ number of steps taken were at the higher-end of the spectrum (12,197 steps). Particularly striking, Mr. Peterson’s data shows that the majority of activity while walking on the golf course was bucketed into the category of “Moderate/Vigorous” activity (e.g. on average, the golfer spent 105.4 minutes of the total 182 minutes on the course doing moderate to vigorous activity). In addition, results showed that participants’ heartbeats exceeded 100 beats per minute more than 65% of the time. A copy of the study can be requested HERE.

While it’s true that walking the golf course results in fluctuating activity, it also appears true that the majority of that activity is exceeding the recommended standards for health maintenance and wellness. Hear that Doc? Golfing not only isn’t hurting my health, but it’s actually helping keep me in shape! Now I wonder what the opt-out clause on my gym membership contract is?

Despite the fact that Stinky Golfer Greg may have taught his doctor a thing or two about golf and exercise, he is in no way, shape or form qualified to be giving medical advice. Always check with your physician before using golf as a substitute for real exercise.

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