Need To Be More Active? Playing Golf Goes Well With Diabetes

“Golf is a day spent in a round of strenuous idleness,” wrote William Wordsworth, and that seems the best reason imaginable to play the game.

While a round of golf provides some “strenuous” exercise, it mostly adds plenty of pleasurable non-exercise movements to our day. Standing, reaching, lifting, twisting, and bending are everyday motions that, when done consistently, are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

For people with diabetes, golf offers several other benefits specific to their health needs, and the game is amenable to the ins and outs of diabetes management, for instance:

  • People who walk an 18-hole golf course trek about five miles, and burn up to 2,000 calories. Golfers using carts burn approximately 1,300 calories during an 18-hole round, and add 2,200 or more steps to their day. The upside of being an average or below golfer is that traipsing in and out of sand traps, and searching for balls in the rough gives you more exercise. “Golf is so popular simply because it is the best game in the world at which to be bad,” wrote A.A. Milne.
  • Golfers must utilize good balance and posture to swing a club, and walk over a course’s uneven terrain. Doing this repeatedly can enhance a golfer’s balance control and balance confidence, according to a 2011 study.
  • Golfing is a great way to get some sunshine and boost our supply of vitamin D—a nutrient many of us get too little of. A lack of vitamin D predisposes people to developing type 2 diabetes, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Vitamin D is also necessary for healthy immune and cardiovascular systems.
  • Golf is a manageable activity for people with type 1 or 2 diabetes. It’s a simple matter for golfers to carry snacks and sources of quick carbs, and monitoring can be done any time during a game. Because golf is a “slow and steady” sport, making meal and insulin adjustments is quite doable for those experienced at it, and if desired, players can reduce their exertion level by golfing nine holes instead of 18, or opting for a par 3 course.
  • Exposure to sunlight helps regulate our body’s daily rhythms, improving chances of a good night’s sleep—and our sense of well-being.
  • The social aspects of golf, plus the proximity to nature can boost our mood, self-esteem, and reduce stress. “It is almost impossible to remember how tragic a place this world is when one is playing golf,” penned Robert Lynd.

Naturally, even strenuously idle activities like golf require some diabetes management discipline. The roving beer cart, and burgers with onion rings in the clubhouse are ever present golfer’s temptations; but then, temptations are everywhere.

Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball where it lies.
~ Bobby Jones

Sources: NPR; NCBI; Medscape; Mercola; Diabetes UK
Photo credit: Krzysztof Urbanowicz

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