Golf News for Monday, January 14, 2008 | Daily Golf Blogs

Karen Palacios-Jansen: Is golf making you fat?

For every additional 30 minutes you spend driving in your car, you increase your chances of becoming obese by three percent, studies say. Although that may not seem like much, but within a few years, it could mean an additional 10 to 30 pounds. Add this to the time you spend sitting in a golf cart while you play golf and you could argue that playing golf could be making you fat.

Hitting a ball every five minutes with bouts of rest in between sitting in a golf cart is not considered appropriate exercise to lose or even maintain weight. Unless you are running to your ball from your golf cart and taking five practice swings before each shot, you are not getting enough exercise.

Playing golf requires a great deal of concentration and may be mentally draining, but swinging a golf club does not require a large amount of energy output. In golf, the energy output is primarily anaerobic (without oxygen) as opposed to running or swimming that are primarily aerobic exercises. Golf is considered a short-term energy sport using energy from the body that does not require oxygen, so you are not burning a lot of calories while you play golf.

Add a couple of hot dogs and a couple of beers to your round and you may actually be in taking more calories than you are burning. To get the recommended amount of exercise you will have to supplement playing golf with real exercise. Consider starting a golf specific workout to kill birds with one stone: work on your golf game and get some well needed exercise.

A well-rounded golf specific workout combines three components:

1. Cardiovascular Training

Walking is one of the best activities people of all ages can do to improve cardiovascular conditioning. Begin your program by walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes gradually increasing your time to 60 minutes. Walk at the fastest pace you can comfortably to carry a conversation, or try to walk fast enough to reach your target heart rate (55 percent to 90 percent of maximum heart rate). You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 then multiplying that number by 80 percent. The ACSM recommends that adults do minimum 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week.

Incorporating interval training into your program will help you increase your aerobic capacity. Walk as fast as you can for two minutes, followed by one minute of slower walking. Repeat this sequence 10 times for a total of 30 minutes of interval walking. Also try lifting your arms over above your head for two paces and then back down for two more while you walk to increase your heart and increase aerobic capacity.

2. Strength Training

Strength training or resistance training as it is sometimes called makes you stronger, to hit the ball longer and more consistently. Whenever one of my female students asks me how to get more power in their swing, I take them to the gym to show them exercises to increase their strength especially in their arms and hands, shoulders and torsos. The stronger you are, the faster you can swing the club, which in turn will give you more clubhead speed for more distance.

Essential muscles to develop for the golf swing:

* Abdominal muscles, external oblique muscles and legs: Strengthening these areas provide support for good posture at address and balance throughout the swing.

* Forearms and wrists: Strong hands and arms are important to be able to hinge the club properly on the backswing and hold the angle on the downswing for solid contact at impact and increased clubhead speed.

* Strong upper backs and shoulders: Developing the rhomboid, trapezoid and deltoid muscles allow maximum torso turn to get into the correct position at the top of the swing. Ideally, there should greater upper body turn then lower body turn at the top of the swing.

Strength training can help increase clubhead speed, but added strength will also benefit your short game as well. When your hands and wrists are strong, you will have greater motor control to help you with your touch around the greens.

3. Flexibility

Flexibility is the third key to a golf specific workout that will help you shave shots off your score. To swing a golf club effectively and consistently you need flexibility in all parts of the body. If your muscles are tight, you will be restricted how far you can turn back away from the ball and compromise your technique to get power. Tight muscles also slow motion needed to generate clubhead to get the ball airborne.

Adding golf specific stretches can help in the following areas:

* Improve posture

* Prevent muscle soreness
* Increase range of motion to achieve a complete shoulder turn and more clubhead speed
* Reduce risk of injury

Spending time in the gym will not only shape up your body, but will help trim your score and could keep off those unwanted pounds.

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