By: Bob Forman, MS-Exercise Physiology
A lot of the focus in golf fitness programs is on stretching, strength training, speed and balance for better golf. All are necessary components, but not worth a whole lot if you happen to get a little tired while playing the back nine.
Fatigue often becomes a foe for many golfers. You may not realize it, but those errant tee shots, off target approach shots, doffed chip shots, and/or missed putts may not all be just bad shots. They may have something to do with the fact that the four plus hours swinging a golf club in the fresh outdoor air is wearing you down a bit.
Execution becomes the issue. We all know being off just a bit on any golf shot can have negative consequences. When the body gets just a little tired, the potential for your playing performance to suffer goes up substantially as does the risk of injury.
Walking the course, obviously, will have more of an impact, but you still will challenge the body even when taking a cart. It adds up when you consider the time on your feet walking up and down inclines, in and out of traps, and around greens and tee boxes. Cart path only days will only add to the total energy drain.
Combine that with the short sprint of a golf swing, repeated over and over again during the round, and it becomes blatantly obvious how the cumulative effect can quickly zap a golfer.
Any amount of fatigue will not bode well for swing efficiency and playing performance. All aspects of the game will be impacted from tee to green. Keeping the cardiovascular system intact, however, will push back the fatigue threshold, allowing the golfer to play optimally through the entire round, minimizing the fatigue-related bad shots and other consequences.
Injury potential, too, will decrease as fatigue is often times a prerequisite for injury. It’s when the body is tired that you’re setting yourself up for musculoskeletal trauma, especially in an explosive, repetitive sport like golf.
Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular exercise for golf as walking is what you’ll be doing out on the golf course. Work up to at least 30 minutes a day and try to get in at least 3 to 4 days each week.
While walking, wear a good pair of running, yes running shoes that will provide adequate support for your type of feet. A good running shoe store will be able to look at your feet and make recommendations as to what type (motion control, stability, or cushioning) of shoe is appropriate for you.
You may even want to get your gait, or how you walk, checked as this can provide some vital information as it relates to the type of shoe you need. An improper gait can lead-up to both acute and chronic pain in the ankles, knees, hips, back, and so on up the chain. Something most people don’t even consider. If you’ve been hampered by a nagging ache and you can’t determine where it’s coming from, check your gait.
Other modalities of cardio exercise are good as well. Elliptical and arc trainers, upright and recumbent bikes, and rowers are all good alternatives. Participating in other activities such as racquetball, squash, and swimming, for example, will offer some cross-training benefits and variety to help with compliance.
Before you begin, it’s always a good idea to check with your physician, especially if you have existing conditions. He or she may have recommendations for you. You may also want to check-in with a knowledgeable exercise specialist. They can calculate out a training heart rate, known as a Target Heart Rate, for you that will provide a safe, productive exercise intensity for your cardio program. A simple rule of thumb, if you’re too winded to carry on a conversation during the exercise, the intensity is too high.
The bottom line is that cardio should be a part of a total golf fitness regime. It’ll keep you fresh through the entire round and benefit not only your game and playing satisfaction, but your health as well.
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