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What are the best golf exercises for seniors?

Head out to the golf course! You'll get in a low-impact workout along with some time socializing with friends. See more healthy aging pictures.
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Golf is a great way for seniors to have some fun and get fit at the same time, especially if they're able to skip the golf cart and walk the course instead. Walking is one of the best low-impact cardiovascular exercises for seniors. It's easy on the joints, burns calories, and builds muscle and bone density. If you're new to walking for fitness, don't worry at first about how far or how long you walk. Start by doing what you can and work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of walking, three or four times a week, by adding a few minutes to your walks each time you head out.

Even if you're not able to do much walking, golf is a beneficial activity for the older crowd. The swing helps with balance, strength and flexibility, and it's just plain fun to get outside with friends and hit some golf balls.

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Training exercises can not only improve your golf game, but they also help prevent injury. Common problem areas for seniors in golf are the ankles, hips and shoulders, and you can do a number of exercises to help improve your strength and flexibility in these areas. You'll also want to work on toning and stretching muscles that work hard during a golf game, like your legs and back.

Exercising the muscles you use in your golf game can be beneficial at any age, and seniors are no exception. While there are many older people that are in great shape, in general, endurance, strength, balance and flexibility tend to decrease as we age, so golf exercises that focus on improving those issues are particularly beneficial for senior golfers.

On the next page, we'll look at some of the best golf exercises for building and maintaining strength.

When you're building a strength training and stretching routine to improve your golf game, it's important to hit the most common trouble spots for seniors. You'll want to focus on the ankles, hips and shoulders, as well as the legs and back. Here are some great exercises:

  • Strengthen your shoulders by training on the rowing machine at the gym or doing dumbbell rows. If dumbbells are too intense, start out with a very low weight or with no weight, and increase the amount that you're lifting as you build up your strength.
  • Improve shoulder flexibility with the "golf twist." This move mimics the golf swing and helps improve your range of motion. If the medicine ball is too heavy, try holding something lighter, like a small bottle of water -- or even nothing -- until you get stronger.
  • Shoulder stretches improve range of motion. Try doing simple shoulder rotations forward and backward or a rotated shoulder stretch.
  • Strengthen and stretch your ankles with seated ankle rotations (clockwise and counterclockwise) or with seated and standing calf raises.
  • Stretch your ankles with calf stretches. While it might not feel like these stretches benefit the ankles, stretching the surrounding muscles will help with ankle flexibility.
  • Strengthen your hips with squats and lunges. Georgia State University has an excellent page on lower-body exercises, including instructions on how to do squats and lunges properly.
  • Stretch your hips for better range of motion. Hip drops and this seated hip stretch from the Mayo Clinic are excellent for improving flexibility in the hips.
  • Stretch your quadriceps with a simple quad stretch with torso rotation. This stretch will also improve balance, and the rotation mimics the golf swing for an added benefit. If you need to, do this stretch close to a wall, so you can steady yourself until your balance improves.

Next up, let's see if a little yoga can help improve your game.

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Believe it or not, a few simple yoga moves can help you improve your golf game.
Believe it or not, a few simple yoga moves can help you improve your golf game.
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Doing the exercises on the previous page during the week can help improve your golf game on the weekends. It's also helpful to spend 15 to 20 minutes warming up before you start your game with a short walk and a few of the yoga-inspired stretches below.

Yoga may not seem like a natural complement to golf, but these gentle yoga stretches can help tone the muscles you use during your game while helping to improve your range of motion and balance. This will prevent injury. Try these moves from Yoga Journal carefully until you get the hang of them:

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  • The chair pose targets your ankles, strengthens your legs and improves balance.
  • The cat and cow postures limber up your shoulders and back.
  • A simple, seated spinal twist helps increase range of motion in your spine and shoulders, readying your body for the rotation when you swing that golf club.
  • The plank pose improves your balance and builds shoulder strength.
  • This warrior pose strengthens your arms, legs, ankles and core while stretching the arms and improving range of motion and balance.

Of course, you'll want to talk to your doctor before starting any new fitness routine, especially if you feel dizzy, weak or fatigued. And once you do get the all-clear from your doctor, it's best to mix up your exercise routine so that you're not working out the same sets of muscles two days in a row. For example, you might do strength training on Monday and Wednesday and stretch on Tuesday and Thursday, or split up your routine between upper- and lower-body workouts. Before you know it, you'll have the most powerful swing on the golf course!

For more articles on exercise for senior citizens, check out the links on the next page.

Related Articles

Sources

  • Department of Kinesiology and Health. "Lower Body Strength Training Exercises." Georgia State University. (May 5, 2011) http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwfit/lowerbod.html
  • iGolfFit. "Limited Hip Mobility: Hips Drops." (May 5, 2011) http://www.igolffit.com/EXERCISES/3/EXERCISE3.html
  • Mayo Clinic. "Slide show: Golf stretches for a more fluid swing." April 30, 2011. (May 5, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/golf-stretches/SM00089
  • Men's Health. "Golf Twist." Golf Fitness. (May 5, 2011) http://www.menshealth.com/golf/exercises/golf-twist.php
  • Men's Health. "The Weekend Warrior: Your guide to avoiding the E.R." (May 5, 2011) http://www.menshealth.com/health/weekend-warrior
  • Rose, Greg and Peter Mackay. "Golf Fitness Academy." Titleist Performance Institute. (May 5, 2011) http://www.mytpi.com/gfa/episode.asp?id=27
  • St. John Providence Health System. "Jog or Walk? Both Boost Your Health." (May 13, 2011) http://www.stjohnprovidence.org/HealthInfoLib/swArticle.aspx?1,2035
  • Valeo, Tom. "Exercises for the shoulder and back." WebMD. Dec. 8, 2009. (May 5, 2011) http://men.webmd.com/features/strength-training-building-shoulder-back-muscles
  • Yoga Journal. "Bharadvaja's Twist." (May 5, 2011) http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/487
  • Yoga Journal. "Cat Pose." (May 5, 2011) http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2468
  • Yoga Journal. "Chair Pose." (May 5, 2011) http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/493
  • Yoga Journal. "Cow Pose." (May 5, 2011) http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2467
  • Yoga Journal. "Warrior II Pose." (May 5, 2011) http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/495

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