Want to give your mental health a bit of a boost? Do something you love. Take a nap. Remove sources of stress from your life. Do some exercise. Get some sunlight!
These are just a few ideas, but they’re all known to be great ways of helping you to feel mentally stronger. But who has time to implement all of them every day?
Here’s a trick: play golf. It helps you do multiple of the above ideas at the same time and it’s fun! Here are 5 things golf can do for your mental health that you may not have known!
Boosts Happy Chemical Levels
Exercise is great for physical health, but it’s also fantastic for mental health. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the biggest reasons is that exercise gets good chemicals flowing through your brain.
One of these chipper chemicals is serotonin. A lack of serotonin contributes significantly to anxiety and depression, so it’s essential that your body produces enough of it to keep you feeling stable and in control.
So how does golf get the serotonin flowing? Well, a study shows that motor activity—like a repetitive golf swing—helps serotonin-producing neurons to fire more quickly and more often.
This means more happy hormones flowing through you while the activity is happening. But that’s not all! As well as making you feel good while you’re busy, it also leaves a lasting impression.
Tryptophan is another chemical that’s essential for the production of serotonin. Interestingly, the body doesn’t produce it on its own, so you need to get it from your diet.
Exercise reduces tryptophan concentration, which means it essentially makes it stronger. Stronger tryptophan equals more serotonin, leading to improved mental health in the end!
Gets You In Touch With Nature
Studies suggest that spending at least 120 minutes—2 hours—per week surrounded by nature has a hugely positive effect on mental health.
You’re breathing in the fresh air, getting vitamin B on your skin, and taking a break from the screen, TV, or laptop.
We all know that exercise is an important part of keeping your mental health on point. But did you know that where you exercise makes a difference too?
Research shows that “green exercise”—doing your activity outdoors, in a natural, green environment—has a more positive effect on mental wellbeing.
That’s what makes the golf course ideal for boosting your physical and mental health! You’re not just playing on a green surface – you’re quite literally surrounded by stunning nature, trees, water, sand, grass, and often, an amazing view. This is why it is worth investing in golf bag rain cover as you can easily bring all the golf pieces of equipment that you need during the play on rainy or sunny days. Accessible and easy to carry in just one golf bag.
That’s not to say that exercising on a field, in a stadium, at the gym, or at home is ineffective! Not at all. But we do advocate exercising out in nature, not only for the benefits but also because it’s just beautiful!
Cultivates Positive Thinking
We all know that golf requires some strategic thinking. You can just point and shoot, but if you really want to improve your game and play often, you’re going to have to start thinking differently.
It’s not about detailed, precise strategy if you’re a casual golfer. But you will need to make strategic decisions, like whether to go down the side of the fairway or attempt to clear the water hazard.
So what does this have to do with improving mental health? Well, conscious strategic thinking uses a different part of your brain than your usual everyday thinking. Which means… You’re building new neural pathways. You’re basically teaching yourself to think differently.
This is exciting for mental health. It reminds us that we can change the way we think by consistent, repetitive thinking. This literally changes your brain.
Imagine if you spent a consistent amount of time working on positive thinking? Don’t get us wrong, we know it’s not always that easy to 180 your mental health. But if you can start building new, positive neural pathways, you’re on the right track to better mental wellbeing!
Keeps You Social
Socializing is essential for mental health, but it’s highly important to do it properly. If large groups or certain situations make you nervous or uncomfortable, you may be tempted to just avoid socializing completely.
However, golf can be the perfect way to get a bit of socialization in, in a non-threatening way. You may be socializing, but you’re not stuck in a room or locked into a pointless conversation. You’re playing golf, moving, and enjoying nature. Socialization is just a side effect!
Something as small as a pat on the shoulder or a high-five after you’ve hit a great shot can be enough to stimulate a rush of happy chemicals—dopamine and oxytocin—in the brain.
Helps You Get In Shape
We may be talking about mental health here, but don’t forget that mental health and physical health are very closely linked. If your physical state is unhealthy, it’s going to be easier for your mental health to follow suit.
There are numerous benefits to getting in shape. One, it improves your cardiovascular health. Two, it builds strength. Three, it speeds up your metabolism. And four, it boosts your confidence.
Every one of these things helps to improve mental health. But how does golf help you stay in shape?
Don’t be fooled by the relaxed nature of golf! It’s a full-body exercise, both muscular and cardiovascular. Here are some interesting facts about the sport:
You can burn up to 1000 calories in a round of golf! Weight loss FTW.
The average golf course is between 3 and 6 miles long. Take a walk!
Your swing works the chest, biceps, abs, obliques, and glutes.
We’ll be honest – all forms of sport that get you out amongst nature and get your heart pumping will be great for your mental health, as well as physical health!
Maybe we’re a bit biased, but we think golf has a bit of a heads-up on others. It’s the full package when it comes to both physical and mental health, and there are multiple playing options that allow absolutely everyone to take part.
With a number of positive things golf can do for your mental health, we highly recommend that everyone gives it a go!
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is an enthusiastic golfer who understands the positive mental effects playing around can have. When he’s not out on the course getting his happy fix, he’s writing for his website, Golf Influence
Photo by mk. s on Unsplash