Before all of you jump up and down celebrating another reason to miss work and play 18, let me remind you that this particular blog is speculative with some educated guess mixed in. Having said that, I am happy to for any grant funding to study the effects of playing golf on brain health!
I began to think about the health benefits of golf some time ago, but I grew more interested during a few rounds of the game with my son. As you know, I have proposed and studied five major domains to my brain health lifestyle: these include socialization, mental stimulation (brain fitness, brain games), physical activity, spirituality, and nutrition. Golf certainly includes four of the five components and may include all five.
Golf is a game that is social. In fact, one typically plays the game with another partner and sometimes three other partners. An even more brain healthy opportunity arises when one plays the game alone and is matched with strangers to play the round. This forces a “complex and novel” environment on you that promotes brain health.
Golf is a game that certainly involves physical activity, particularly if you walk and do not ride in a cart. As 25% of the blood from each heartbeat goes to the brain there can be tremendous blood perfusion to the brain during a game of golf. This simply considers the walking and not the swinging and body motion mechanics of the golf swing.
Golf involves mental stimulation in the forms of conversation and story telling with your partners, arithmetic calculations while keeping score which can involve three digits, keeping track of your shots which demands memory, and probably trying to keep track of your partner’s shots so there is no funny business going on. There is also planning, strategy and decision making, judgment, and estimation of distance and space skills involved.
Golf can be a spiritual experience to reduce stress, have fun, slow down, and enjoy nature. Golf courses tend to provide nice scenery and a pleasant surrounding. Golf provides you an opportunity to reflect and to set priorities.
Finally, Golf can include good nutrition if the proper foods and beverages are selected before, during, and after the game. Fruits, vegetables, and fish are always great items in a brain health diet.
I believe golf is a natural activity that provides many aspects of the brain health lifestyle I have discussed and written about. So long as one does not let a poor shot or poor score raise his or her stress level too much!
Hit the links, it might just be good for your brain!