Saturday morning on the links may be the most enjoyable four-hour workout you get, but it's certainly not the best, fitness-wise. However, there are ways to get more exercise from your time on the links:
- Walk the walk
Leave the cart at the clubhouse and walk all 18 holes. You'll not only get a good aerobic workout, but may burn up to 600 calories. (Use a cart and you'll rack up a grand total of only about 10 minutes of exercise, including climbing in and out of the cart.) It may be tough at first, but the more often you walk the course, the greater your endurance and the stronger your legs will become. Strong legs mean a more powerful swing, and better endurance means playing your best from start to finish. Added benefit: Some studies show that vibrations from riding in a golf cart can lead to back injuries sometimes attributed to poor form.
- Add weight
Carrying your own bag (without a pull cart) will burn more calories and help strengthen your legs, arms and back. Just be sure to vary the shoulder you carry it on to maintain balance.
- Timing is everything
Learn when your course is least crowded, and show up then. You'll be able to walk faster if there's no slow-poke foursome in front of you; the faster you walk, the better your workout.
- Think like you're in the gym
You wouldn't think about lifting weights without warming up, and you'd run in place instead of stopping at a red light. So warm up before golfing with a few simple stretches, and repeat them anytime you find yourself standing around waiting. Try these techniques:
- Shoulders: Clasp your hands behind your back, and move your arms upward.
- Back: Clasp your hands overhead, and slowly bend to each side.
- Back: Lay a golf club across your shoulders, and slowly twist to each side.
- Hamstring: Lean against a tree or car for support with both hands. Put one foot about 12 inches behind the other, and press your weight gently into the heel of the rear foot. You should feel a stretch, but stop if you feel any pain.
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