Mental health awareness has been skyrocketing in recent years, and along with it, a better understanding of treatments for it. While psychologists still see therapy and medication as the foundation for treating mental illness, many activities can be beneficiary in improving your mental well-being. Studies have found that exercise can enhance the effectiveness of the treatment of mental illnesses.
Golf remains a popular pursuit, and signs are beginning to show that it can help tackle psychological health issues such as depression, anxiety, and dementia. There are several critical factors to golfing as a boon to mental health, each having its own positive effect on the individual.
Golf Is Physical
An 18-hole round of golf typically burns around 500 calories. Players usually walk approximately 6 to 8 kilometers, which is a good amount of exercise, but not one that is especially strenuous. This is an excellent benefit to very young and older adults, whose bodies may not be used to intense forms of exercise such as more intense cardio work or resistance training.
The physical aspects of golf can have a positive benefit on ailments such as Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease, among other things. Studies have even shown that regularly playing golf can lead to a longer life expectancy. While these effects are generally beneficial to your physical well-being, a healthier body usually helps in building a better self-image and can lead to positive effects on your mental well-being as well.
A Different Kind of Therapy
Exercising in a gym can be good for you, but physical activity in the outdoors can have an even more significant effect on your life. “Eco therapy” is a concept covering activities done outdoors, wherein the combination of exercise and nature is said to have a profound impact on one’s mental health. “Ecotherapy encompasses a wide variety of interventions, whether they be prolonged periods in wilderness, gardening or individual therapy.” psychologist Oliver James added. While there are golf courses in cities, the sport needs the vast, lush greens to function. Such an environment can have a positive effect on your mental health.
An essential aspect of golf is its social character. Studies have shown that socializing can vastly improve your mental health for longer. Golf is usually played with other people, and often you are required to join a club to have access to a golf course at all. These characteristics of golf make it easier to socialize and create bonds with other people, which are fantastic for treating mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
“While depression and anxiety are two different medical conditions, their symptoms, causes, and treatments can often overlap.” –Kathleen Smith, PhD, LPC
Golf also presents a level of quiet focus as a sport, as opposed to the on-the-spur reactions of more high-paced sports like basketball or tennis. Studies have found that our brains tend to “wander”, and this can lead to a decrease in happiness. Golf turns out to be good practice for our minds then, as the level of focus required can keep your mind from wandering too much as you play through a course.
A Sport for Good
There is no shame in having a psychological illness, and there is no shame in seeking treatment. While it is beneficial indeed to seek medical treatment, it is often the life we lead that can help in keeping ourselves happy and healthy. This can range from the people we know to the activities we pursue. Golfing has shown itself to be an excellent source of joy for those who love it, and a source of peace from the trying world we find ourselves in.
“Mental health is complex, and it would be a lot easier if we were like cars.” Dr. Mitch Keil, clinical psychologist said. Fortunately, we have the agency to choose things in our life that are worth pursuing, and golf has proven time and time that it is an excellent choice to keep ourselves healthy, both physically and mentally.