In my article “Walking the Golf Course… Can you Do It?” the very important point I tried to stress was the fact you should be in reasonably good shape to walk the golf course as opposed to walking the golf course to get into shape. There is a very important distinction. I highly recommend getting into shape prior to walking 9 or 18 holes, otherwise you might find the effort with a 30-pound bag in tow just too challenging. Currently, I have only walked 9 holes, so this article is based on that.
When I decided that I was going to be a walker, I put together an exercise routine that would get me to a point of being able to walk 9 holes comfortably. I created an exercise regimen for myself, doing a different routine everyday for a couple of reasons… to keep myself interested and motivated, and also to work different muscle groups for endurance, cardio, strength and flexibility.
Check with your physician to get the clearance before you build your routine, but this is what I put together for myself during the off-season and then carry much of it over during the golf season to keep my momentum going.
- Endurance! walk…walk…walk! I have an outside and inside routine depending upon the weather. When I initially started walking, I clocked one mile till I felt comfortable, then challenged myself to 1 ½ – 2 miles walking at a moderate pace, and continued to add distance as my endurance built up. Right now, I am at 4 ½ miles with my overall long-term goal of walking 5 miles in 2 hours on hilly terrain. Having previously walked 9 holes, I found that a round typically takes around 2 hours even though 9 holes usually measures approximately 2 miles. Walking two miles around the neighborhood or park only takes 30 minutes and isn’t going to develop the endurance you need to walk 9 holes. You should be aiming to build your stamina and endurance to handle the time it takes to walk as opposed to the distance. But on the golf course, you are going to have to handle 2 ½ hours on your feet. That’s why you should focus on endurance …. not distance. When I can’t get outside, I have a treadmill that can incline up to 9 degrees and vary in speed. I play with the settings to meet my mileage goals to build endurance as I get my 2 hours in.
- Cardio! Some courses are nice and flat. Not so much where I live. We have many “coronary” hills that can be a challenge when pushing or pulling that 30-pound bag up and down the hill. You will need to work on your cardio to handle those hills. I have a couple of indoor routines great for cardio. I love my elliptical on those indoor days to push my cardio and increase my target heart rate. The target heart rate is used to establish the intensity of exercise necessary to produce a training effect on the cardiovascular system. I alternate my elliptical routine with a combination 25-minute kettlebell plus a 30-minute aerobics workout called “Step It to the Max” developed by T-Tapp, Inc. By doing strength kettlebell first, followed by the step cardio for at least 30 minutes really helps to burn fat too. Nothing like a little bonus when working out!
- Strength! I do strength training with my favorite kettlebell routine from a YouTube Channel called HASfit and their workout “25 Minute Beginner Kettlebell Workout for Fat Loss – Kettlebell workouts for Beginners Men and Women.” I use a 10-pound kettlebell with this 25-minute routine that hits all the major muscle groups. As we age, we lose muscle mass every year, but you can alleviate muscle loss with effective little workouts such as the one. If you have not used kettlebells, be sure to learn your form very carefully and only go to your personal max. Don’t overdo it. It may seem easy, but this little workout is a powerhouse. From experience, I can tell you I was really feeling muscle soreness and discomfort the next day due to lactic acid buildup. Luckily, I have another workout called “Step Away the Inches” that helps dissipate that lactic acid when doing strength training or other activities.
- Flexibility! My go-to workout for the past 5 years has been a great little 20-minute workout I discovered on my local PBS station which is great for developing flexibility as well as strength. It is called the “Basic Workout Plus” developed by T-Tapp, Inc. In fact, I fell in love with the workout so much, I decided I would become certified to teach this program. There is so much this workout offers, but the best part is you gain mobility in the thoracic spine, increase stabilization of the lumbar spine, build core strength, and improve your overall flexibility. By nature, the golf swing is considered to be a highly explosive rotational move … very demanding on the spine. Doesn’t it make sense to protect your spine? During a 9 hole round its easy to rack up a minimum of 30 – 40 full swings that torque the spine. Those golfers who haven’t taken care of their flexibility simply end up dropping out of the game due to injuries. Not only do I use this workout every day to maintain my flexibility, it’s my secret 15-minute warmup routine I do before every round of golf.
Exercise is Not Optional if you Play Golf After 50+
I do a different workout every day to target different muscle groups to keep myself cardio fit, build endurance, flexibility and strength. As a retired lady who wants to stay active and play golf for the rest of my life, exercise is not optional.
I try to exercise everyday for a duration of 1 ½ to 2 hours. This was something I worked up to over the past 5 years. When I started exercising, I could barely manage 5 minutes of cardio or walk one-half mile. I took it slow and did experience some setbacks along the way as I learned the correct form and eased back when I pushed myself too hard. But I stuck with exercise to keep building up to my current fitness level.
I use different techniques to keep myself motivated… I keep a running log of daily workouts, and I rotate my exercise routines to keep them interesting. Most importantly, I want to make sure I don’t lose the fitness I have already achieved. Everyone is different with different lifestyles, so find what works best for you. And it’s important to get your doctor’s approval before starting your workout regimen.