Mental health benefits of golf as you age – Forbes Health
According to a study in the Golf Science Journal, playing golf is associated with improved physical health and mental well-being, and potentially helps increase life expectancy. Check out the various science-based mental benefits of playing golf below.
Relief of anxiety and depression
Exercise is a proven way to find relief from certain mental and emotional issues. A 2017 review of studies in Maturitas: an international journal on health in midlife and beyond have shown that exercise alleviates symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.
“We know from several studies that even light exercise like walking for 30 minutes three times a week can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety,” says Sheenie Ambardar, MD, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist who works with older adults. “Additionally, being outdoors while playing golf exposes people to natural light, which helps maintain a regular circadian rhythm and aids in the production of serotonin, which in turn reduces symptoms of depression” , she says.
According to a study by International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In fact, researchers reported that older adults who spent at least 30 minutes outdoors each day were more likely to have fewer depressive symptoms than those who spent that time indoors.
Increased social interaction
“One of the reasons golf is so popular among older people is the social and psychological benefits it provides,” says Dr. Ambardar. “Being around other humans in a friendly, fun, low-stakes environment has many mental health benefits.”
This benefit can be particularly important for retirees who no longer have the guaranteed daily contact with others that a workplace provides.
“As people age, they tend to become socially isolated, which can increase their risk of developing depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline,” says Dr. Ambardar. “Golf offers a great way to combat these risks because it is usually played with other people, providing a natural opportunity for camaraderie and human contact, which we know improves mental health.”
“It’s a very social game,” adds Cooper. “If you’re looking to meet new people, that’s a good thing. You can close when you don’t have a conversation with other people. But when you play golf with other people, hear their ideas, talk about your grandchildren, you see that other people have problems too. You can kind of recognize that sometimes getting old is hard. We turn a page, we work less, and it can be hard.
By starting or slowly returning to golf (and accepting your skill level), your confidence can grow. “Golf is all about understanding your balance and your athleticism,” says Cooper. “I try to ensure that each student gets the most out of what they come with.”
And playing regularly, which can lead to improvement, also helps build confidence. “For golf, doing it every day is better than once a week, and four times a week is better than once a week,” says Cooper. But be realistic in your expectations – “there is no crash course”. And don’t be afraid to do something wrong, he says. It’s all part of the learning process.
Golfers must develop (to some degree) the quality of patience – with themselves, others and the game (unlike tennis or pickleball, a round of golf is slow paced). Cooper says many beginning players give up because they think they’re not improving fast enough and missing the thrill of a breakthrough in their skill level.
“If you play golf, you shouldn’t be in a hurry or expect instant gratification,” says Cooper. “You are going too fast. Cooper adds that when he sees agitated people on the golf course, it’s probably because they’ve brought concerns from the outside world into the game. find out about yourself when you play golf. If you’re not patient, that’s a skill you’re going to have to develop,” he says.