There are two kinds of golfers. There are the golfers that whack the ball off the tee, hop in their cart with a stogie between their lips and a scotch in their hands and cruise on to the next hole. There’s nothing wrong with that. Your golf game is whatever you want it to be and, quite frankly, that sounds like a pretty great way to spend an afternoon.
Then there’s Mark Wahlberg, who’s never satisfied with the bare minimum. He runs from hole to hole, using his game as another opportunity to get in a little workout. He works his core with his swings and revels in the opportunity to spend some time outdoors. He’s an entirely different type of golfer, who sees the game as an exercise as well as a stress relief. (There’s also the Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack type, but he’s more of an exception to the rule.)
If you’re the Mark Wahlberg type of golfer – or aspire to be – you can take a page out of his book and use your time on the course to your advantage. Run, don’t walk or cart to your ball, focus on your core and revel in your time outdoors.
Incorporate Some Cardio
One of the many beauties of golf is the built-in opportunity for cardio. There’s an average of 67 yards between holes on your typical, 18-hole golf course. Don’t let this distance go to waste. Skip the golf cart, as relaxing and enticing as it may be, and use the space between your pitch and your putt to move your butt. And you don’t need to just saunter around the course, although that’s better than hopping in your cart with a high-calorie adult beverage. You can use the green between holes as a chance to get in a quick jog.
Mark Wahlberg takes it one step further- sprinting from hole to hole, getting his heart rate up and using his morning golf game as a workout. “I would tee off at 6 in the morning and run the golf course,” Wahlberg told Yahoo Sports. While he was filming for Transformers, he did whatever was necessary to fit a round of golf and a little extra exercise into his busy schedule. “We’d hit a drive and then just sprint to the ball and then the [caddies] would come with the carts. We’d grab a club, hit again and then sprint again.”
Sprinting has the potential to completely change your body composition. “When it comes to cutting you up and promoting a nutrient-partitioning milieu conducive to building and maintaining a lean, muscular physique, sprinting simply cannot be beat,” says BodyBuilding.com. According to LiveStrong, incorporating sprints into your training can increase your maximum heart rate over time, which will allow you to work out more efficiently. It will increase your overall cardiovascular fitness, which helps you take in more oxygen when you’re exercising, and increases your anaerobic threshold.
Plus, you can speed up your golf game. “We’d play all 18 in about an hour fifteen, maybe 1:20,” Wahlberg said. “Depending on the putting.”
Focus On Your Core
Golf is, above all, a core exercise. You’re twisting, swinging, balancing, all with extreme power and control – hopefully enough to get the ball where you want it to go. Every time you swing your club, you’re engaging your core muscles and improving their strength and mobility. It’s no wonder pro golfers have some of the best abs around.
Of course there are those slogging across the course with a beer gut, but that doesn’t have to be you. There are exercises you can do to improve your core, your balance and your swing, and you need to be doing them. “The muscles around the midsection of your body – known as the ‘core’ muscles – are hugely important for your golf swing,” according to Golf Digest. “Their main responsibility is to stabilize your body so you can swing powerfully without losing your balance or control of the club – no matter what kind of lie you are facing. They also help prevent injuries, specifically protecting your spinal column.”
Golf Digest suggests working your core with a series of exercises designed specifically for your swing. Use your golf game as motivation to get the abs you want. You’ll need to not only work your abs back to front, like you do with crunches or planks, but also side to side and rotationally with specific exercises. Ask a friend to stand a few feet to your side and hold a resistance band for you. Get down on one knee and place your hands in the band. Lift your arms straight out in front of you with your palms together and try not to twist toward the resistance. Hold this position for five to 10 good, deep breaths. Do the same on the other side.
To work that side to side motion, stay in the same position with the resistance band around your hands and lift your arms overhead. Keep your hands directly over your head and resist bending into the band. Strive to stay perfectly upright for five to 10 deep, even breaths. Repeat, with your friend holding the band off to the other side.
To work your extension, stay in the semi-kneeling position but have your friend stand behind you so you’re resisting bending either backward or forward. Stay there for the same five to 10 breaths. It might not seem like much, but working these simple exercises into your routine is going to give you well-rounded core strength and improve your balance, thus improving your swing. A little bit of resistance work can go a long way toward improving the look and function of your midsection.
Enjoy Your Time Outside
An NPR survey found that one of the primary reasons people stick with golf is stress relief and there’s no better way to relieve stress than by spending time outside. According to Business Insider, spending time outside can lower your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and decrease heart rate, in comparison to time spent in the city. Enjoying the outdoors can also lead to improved concentration, more creative thinking, improved mental health and improved short-term memory, in case you needed a few extra reasons to get out of the house and onto the golf course.
The mental and physical benefits of golf can have a serious positive impact on your health and wellness off the course. Do like Mark does and take advantage of your game. Use it to improve your cardiovascular fitness through ditching the golf cart and sprinting across the course. Use it to improve your core strength – and use core exercises outside of golf to improve your swing. Use it as a good excuse to spend some time outside, soaking in all of the health and mental benefits that the outdoors can bring. Now grab some friends and tee up.
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