There is one sure fire way to burn more calories by playing golf: If the course will allow it, forgo a cart in favor of walking. In 2010, sports scientist Neil Wolkodoff conducted a study using a group of amateur golfers, and found they burned over 700 calories per 9 holes when they walked the course versus just over 400 when they rode in a cart. This means you could burn about a Big Mac’s worth of extra calories by walking an 18-hole round instead of riding.
Now that the obvious is out of the way, we can get to one of the study’s more surprising results.
“One of the interesting things I’ve found was that the actual act of swinging a golf club takes significant energy,” Wolkodoff told The New York Times.
Spending a few extra minutes at the driving range can help you burn a pretty substantial number of calories: Just 15 extra minutes equal about 50 calories. You burn the most calories when you engage your shoulders, hips and core in your swing, so be sure to concentrate on your form for a better workout.
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Taking more swings on the course can also help with your calorie count, but that doesn’t mean your score needs to go up for your waistline to go down. Instead, consider trying this: Next time you’re playing in a twosome, hit two tee shots each. Then play your better-lying ball, again giving yourself and your partner two shots. This not only allows you to expend more energy and therefore burn more calories, but it also lets you attempt two different approaches to each shot. Use what you learned from your approach to try to improve your second.
If it looks like the group behind you is in a hurry, you might want to try a different calorie-burning tactic. Mike Smaltz, founder of the Philadelphia-area gym chain Platoon Fitness, suggests that you time your round from start to finish. Not only can clocking your time help you increase the number of calories you’re burning, but it can also help you lower your score.
“When you add up your final score, write down how long it took you to play right next to it. People are surprised by how playing quicker correlates to better scores. And you’ll be getting a much better workout with three-hour rounds than you ever did in four-and-a-half,” Smaltz told Philadelphia Magazine.
According to Smaltz, you can also use downtime to up your fitness level. Rather than standing around waiting for the rest of your group to tee off, use that time to fit in some push ups, lunges, squats or calf raises. Tony Horton, creator of P90X, recommends setting a goal of getting your heart rate up for one minute, 10 times each day. You could knock out a few of those one-minute stints by doing calisthenics on the course. If you’re not the only one in your group looking to burn some calories, perhaps placing a wager could help … The highest scorer on each hole has to do 10 push ups or walk to the next hole instead of riding in the cart.
Also consider investing in some wearable tech that can not only improve your game, but can help you stay on track when it comes to fitness. The Microsoft Band 2, for example, measures yardage and tracks your score, all while recording your heart rate, number of calories burned and step count. A word to the wise, though: Reviewers have said that, while the stats are accurate, the Band 2’s interface takes some getting used to. Test out the features of anynew wearable tech before you get to the course to save yourself (and your friends) some frustration.
Golfing can be a great workout, but don’t forget that your game can benefit immensely from additional weight and cardiovascular training. The fitter you are, the better you play!