Ask the doctor
Image: Monkey Business Images/ Thinkstock
Q. I walk 18 holes of golf twice a week for my exercise routine. Is this enough or should I do more?
A. Walking the golf course certainly counts as exercise. Even riding in a golf cart is better than doing nothing. But to meet the recommended level for good health, you probably need to increase your activity. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to help reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke. This is equal to 30 minutes five days a week. One way to achieve this is with brisk walking (4 mph) for 10 miles per week, which burns a total of approximately 1,000 calories.
Studies have found that walking 18 holes is about equal to brisk walking in terms of intensity (even though golf walking is stop-and-go). A golfer may walk four miles and burn 800 to 900 calories during an average round with help from swinging clubs. If you ride in a cart, the walking distance drops to about one mile and you burn half the calories. So playing two walking rounds per week is a good way to meet the minimum exercise requirement.
However, in order to gain the maximum cardiovascular benefit from exercise, you may want to add a day or two of higher-intensity activities, such as running, tennis, or something similar that raises your heart rate. The good news: you do not need more than an hour per day. Research has found there is little additional benefit after that time period.
—William Kormos, MD
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men’s Health Watch