Golf Strengthens the Heart
February is American Heart Month, and this reminds us that it is important to keep our hearts healthy and strong. Fortunately, golf can help with that!
It’s no secret that exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, and golf can provide good exercise and may be associated with longevity, physical health and wellness benefits.
It is recommended that Americans exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (brisk walking), 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (jogging or cycling) or some combination of the two every week. In addition, it is recommended that you engage in muscle strengthening activities at least two days every week.
Playing golf can help you meet these goals, especially if you opt to walk instead of driving a golf cart. The average course length on the PGA Tour is approximately 7,200 yards — 4.09 miles!
Walking can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce your risk of a heart attack and stroke. It can also burn calories and promote weight loss.
Starting a new workout
If you are usually not physically active, you may want to start small and increase your physical activity over time. You could ask a friend to drive the golf cart while you walk the first few holes, increasing how much you walk with each golf outing. “In most scenarios, some physical activity is better than nothing, but for you to get the most health benefits, you have to break a sweat” says Dr. Israel Cordero, medical director of Middlesex Health Primary Care. “That’s when your body and mind will reap the most benefits.”
Dr. Cordero adds that you may want to consult your physician before starting a new workout routine to ensure that your plan is right for you.
“My general philosophy on exercise is to find something active you enjoy doing, such as golf, and then it’s not really a chore,” says Dr. Cordero. “It becomes something fun you can build into your weekly routine.”
What else can you do to help your heart?
Eat right — both at home and on the golf course! Choose nutritious foods, and eliminate processed food and minimize sodium, partially hydrogenated oils, soda and desserts. The goal is to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grain, nuts and legumes, and Dr. Cordero typically recommends plant-based diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, to patients.
Also, go easy on the alcohol.
In addition to helping with heart health, eating right is important because what we put into our bodies ultimately determines how well we perform both mentally and physically, says Middlesex Health registered dietitian Piper Tobler. Eating healthy gives you a competitive advantage and could potentially improve your golf score.
One more suggestion: If you smoke, consider quitting!
How a primary care physician can help
Being seen regularly by a primary care physician has many benefits, and one is that your primary care physician can help monitor your heart health, identifying any issues before they become problems.
“Primary care physicians want to help you stay well,” says Dr. Cordero. “Because of this, we consider risk factors for conditions like heart disease, pay close attention to your medical history and offer advice on how you can lower any risks you might have.”
Risk factors that may increase your chances of developing heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
- Getting older
- Being of a certain ethnicity, such as African American or Hispanic
If needed, a primary care physician can refer you to a cardiologist who specializes in preventing and treating heart disease.
About Middlesex Health Primary Care
Middlesex Health has 12 primary care offices and three family medicine offices throughout Middlesex County and along the Connecticut shoreline. Its primary care providers can see you for your wellness visits, as well as when you are sick.
Both Middlesex Health Primary Care and Middlesex Health Family Medicine are consistently recognized as Patient-Centered Medical Homes. This recognizes practices that use evidence-based, patient-centered processes that focus on providing highly coordinated care and fostering long-term, participative relationships. This is considered the gold standard measurement for primary care.
For more information about Middlesex Health Primary Care or Middlesex Health Family Medicine, click here.
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