As Sports Kinesiologist and Nutrition Lance Geringer shows maintaining your health isn't only crucial for your general well-being but can also improve your game.
Fitness and health are intertwined. Health is the optimal feeling of well-being [a quality life free from illness and disease] and getting fit helps get you there. But, being fit and healthy doesn’t mean you’ll play better golf. Getting ‘golf fit’ does though! A golf fitness programme allows the golfer to play the game without feeling tired, having sore muscles or a heart rate that is too high – that’s why I call it ‘golf fit’.
Areas of fitness
When you hear the word ‘fitness’ most people think of ‘cardiovascular fitness’ (heart and lungs) and lower body fat, but these are only two parts of fitness. With regards to health, ‘fitness’ and ‘golf fitness‘ cover the same (five) areas, but golf also covers an additional (3) skill areas of fitness. In your golf fitness programme you will need to cover all (eight) areas but for this article we will just discuss the health areas:
1- Body fat percentage
2- Cardiovascular Fitness
4- Muscular Endurance
If you look at the above health areas, every point covers what a golfer needs for maximum performance during their round - and a couple are inter-related: (examples)
Lower body fat normally means better cardiovascular fitness
Increased strength means better muscular endurance
In a normal fitness programme, the individual eats healthier, exercises moderately and gets proper rest. In a golf fitness programme, the individual must follow the same fitness protocols but also include specific activity for the amount of work golf requires when playing (i.e., pushing a cart or carrying your clubs over 18 holes, swinging those clubs 200+ times, bending, reaching, etc.).
Where to begin
The first part of your golf fitness programme begins with doing activities that build cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance in the legs (eg walking, hiking, etc.) These activities also directly influence the loss of body fat by having the body burn more calories. Combine this with a healthy eating plan and the tips I’ve suggested in my “Play Golf and Burn Fat” article and you’ll start lowering your body fat percentage.
Choose only activities that you enjoy doing and which increase your heart rate, and then commit to doing them at least three times a week to begin with. Do not do these activities for over 15 minutes per session for the first couple of weeks, especially if you haven’t done them for awhile. Your muscles, ligaments/tendons and bones need to adapt to the stress being placed upon them and then recuperate from it. Doing too much too soon is one of the biggest problems I see when someone undertakes a golf fitness programme. Slowly and steadily increase the time you’re doing these activities each week (2 ½ to 5 minutes each week).
The other part of the programme covers strength and flexibility. I like putting these two areas together since they complement each other. When you exercise a muscle, the blood circulates through it which makes it easier [and safer] to stretch the area helping to increase the flexibility. Stretch before, during and after each exercise (use the tips in my “Avoiding injuries” article).
Becoming ‘golf fit’ not only improves your game but it also makes you healthier, so find an activity you enjoy, do some extra stretching, eat healthier and watch not only your handicap get lower but also your body fat!