As we approach retirement, it is important to keep focusing on natural ways to maintain good physical and emotional health. Something that certainly ticks this box is golf. The average American retires at 63 and, with life expectancy in the United States between 76 and 81 for men and women respectively, golf offers many physical and psychological benefits to those wanting to make the most of life after work. Most importantly, golf can improve sleep and lessen stress. It also helps keep you physically fit and alert, which is particularly important as you age.
Make sure you’re in good shape
First things first, being in good physical shape is crucial when it comes to playing golf. Golf is a lot more physically demanding than it might look. You need strong core muscles, good balance and accurate aim to be able to perform well. You also need an abundance of focus and mental stamina. Good technique and appropriate equipment are important but will only get you so far. Warming up and down between golfing sessions, as well as exercising regularly, will ensure that you are in the best possible shape to meet the physical demands of the sport. It also helps protect you from injury.
The rewards are well worth the hard work, though: regular exercise improves your bone health and muscle strength, as well as reducing your risk of chronic disease. All these things become increasingly important the older we get. Regular exercise also makes you happier and leaves you feeling more energetic. This will help you improve your performance and keep you motivated to keep playing regularly.
Other benefits of playing golf
The positive aspects of playing golf in retirement don’t end there. There are many social and psychological benefits, which can have a long-lasting impact on your wellbeing. These include the following:
- Being outdoors is good for your mental health. The fact that golf is played outside is significant, as the great outdoors come with invaluable health benefits. First, sunlight provides vitamin D, which is vital for bone density - something of particular importance to us as we age and our bones get thinner. Second, studies show that being outdoors boosts morale. The relatively quiet nature of golf also provides a valuable opportunity for some ‘mental space’: the opportunity to reflect and clear your head between golfing rounds.
- Golf can be enjoyed as a group. The flexibility of golf is certainly advantageous. You may wish to practice your swing alone or simply enjoy some ‘you time’ over a few leisurely rounds on a golf course. At the same time, golf is also a very social sport that you can play alongside others. The latter has added benefits for your mental health, with research showing that group exercise reduces stress levels by 26%. This is partly thanks to the camaraderie that comes with doing things together, as well as the motivation that peers give to one another.
- Playing golf on a regular basis adds structure to your week. One challenge that people face in retirement is finding structure and purpose to their week, with work having provided this for a long time on a day-to-day basis. Retired people are particularly susceptible to depression as a result - particularly men, whose chances of becoming depressed increase by 40% after retiring. Playing golf regularly, particularly as part of a group or a club, can help create a routine and purpose. This helps boost your self-esteem and productivity in the process.
- Golf can be enjoyed all over the country and beyond. Something else worth considering when it comes to golf is the fact that you can play it in lots of countries across the globe. It may not be as easily accessible as as a sport like soccer, but you can certainly scope out golf courses abroad and, if you fancy it, even take part in amateur competitions. These give you something to work towards, while also offering you the chance to experience other cultures and meet new people.
Golf: Good for your overall wellbeing
We need to prioritize our physical and emotional wellbeing in whatever stage of life we are at, but it is particularly important to do so as we approach retirement. Most of us look forward to retirement, but it can also be a daunting prospect. When the routine of work is suddenly taken away, some people can be left feeling lost and unsure how to make the most of their newfound free time.
Golf provides the perfect opportunity to pursue a hobby and get vital regular exercise, either while socializing with friends or making new ones. The physical and psychological benefits of playing golf certainly make it an option worth exploring.