Fitness: In golf, training is done in walking

Carrying clubs only uses about 93 more calories than using a cart, although that may seem like more.

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Given its popularity, you’d think there would be a lot of data on exactly where golf sits on the fitness continuum. But justifying the energy expended during 18 holes of golf is trickier than it seems. Each course is a little different; some longer, some shorter, some hillier, and some flatter, which affects not only the number of steps taken, but also the effort required to complete the course. Same principle for golfers, novices, confirmed and pros approach the course differently. Another factor to consider is how a golfer carries their clubs, cart or no cart, which affects the amount of energy needed to play 18 holes.

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Hoping to provide insight into a game played by 66.6 million people worldwide, researchers from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University fitted 16 young golfers with accelerometers before each of the three rounds of an 18-hole par 72 championship golf course in Portugal. All rounds were completed at least a week apart using a different means of transporting the clubs; a pull cart, electric cart, or club transport (as COVID restrictions were in effect during the study, electric golf carts were not available). Each golfer’s heart rate and activity levels were recorded along with responses to questions related to their perceived exertion and level of enjoyment throughout the round.

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“The objective of the current study was to quantify activity energy expenditure in an experienced cohort of elite golfers, while simultaneously investigating the effects of three popular modes of equipment transport (carrying the bag , manually pushing a cart, and using an electric cart),” the researchers said.

The biggest reveal of the study is whether golfers carried their clubs or used a push-pull or electric cart, the effect on energy expenditure was minimal. Among young golfers, there was only a 93 calorie difference between carrying golf clubs and using an electric golf cart. That said, golfers themselves considered carrying their bag more of a hassle than using a cart.

“These results suggest that the total energy expenditure during a round of golf is not significantly affected by the mode of transportation of the equipment, but is largely due to the cost of the locomotive to walk around the golf course. golf combined with a small contribution of physical exertion from the golf swing,” the researchers said.

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It’s also worth noting that golfers burned an average of 3.4 calories per minute, with an estimated total energy expenditure of 702 calories over 18 holes. With the average round of golf completed in 200-210 minutes and golfers recording a heart rate between 92 and 144 beats per minute (46-73% of participants’ maximum heart rate), training statistics are indeed similar to those of someone simply walking the course.

What do these findings tell us about the game of golf?

Since 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week improves health and reduces the risk of chronic disease, playing one round of golf per week is good for overall health. It also removes the idea that carrying your own clubs is more of a workout than using an unpowered cart. So if you’re only carrying your clubs to burn a few extra calories, don’t bother. The training is in the walk itself.

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“Golf may be considered an effective intervention to increase step counts and improve physical activity levels in the general population, regardless of club transport modes,” the researchers said.

It’s also worth considering that carrying clubs caused the highest spike in heart rate, which could have a negative effect on swing mechanics.

“Perceived exertion and maximum heart rate were found to be lower when using the power cart, which may have implications for competitive performance, which should be addressed in future research,” the researchers said. .

And for those trying to lose weight in the winter, it’s important to note that the energy expended during a round of golf can easily be replaced with a few cold drinks and a plate of nachos, something to consider when fueling up. at the 19th hole.

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Keep in mind that the statistics collected reflect the age of the golfer and the type of course played. The golfers in this study were college-aged with 77% of the subjects being male. And the course they played on was relatively flat. Since not everyone burns the same number of calories while performing the same task, gender, age, body weight, exercise intensity, and economy of movement, there is chances are that the energy cost of your round of golf will not be quite the same. like the study subjects despite having a similar number of steps and the same time to complete your lap. But that doesn’t take away from the health benefits of a round of golf. Nor does it diminish the conclusion that carrying one’s own clubs does not contribute significantly to the energy cost of a round of golf.

“Recreational golfers can choose a preferred mode of club transport without fear that it will negatively affect energy expended and ‘calories burned,'” the researchers said.

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