Benefits to Walking / Using a Golf Push Cart
By GBB Staff
If you want to up the ante on the amount of exercise and physical exertion you experience during a round, you can impact that by how you decide to get around the course. You can choose to walk the course while carrying your bag, you can choose to ride a motorized cart, or you can choose to walk while using a push cart.
Walking / Carrying Your Bag
- For those wanting to maximize the workout, walking and carrying your bag is clearly the most physically demanding option. A round of golf that includes taking up to 8,000 steps while carrying 15-30 lbs, occasionally over hilly terrain, will definitely require more physical exertion than either of the other options.
Riding a Motorized Cart
- At the other end of the spectrum, riding in a motorized cart will provide the fewest health benefits, comparatively speaking. That is not to say that you’ll forego all health benefits by riding. You’ll still be burning calories, to some extent, etc., just not as many as you would by electing to walk. But, having said that, if your physical condition requires that you ride a cart just to be able to play, then by all means jump in that cart and enjoy your round.
Walking / Using a Push Cart
- For many people, using a push cart will end up being the best solution. For those who want the benefits of walking, but find that lugging a heavy golf bag is too physically demanding, using a push cart represents the ideal compromise. You get the nice five mile walk, minus the bag on your shoulder. It’s the best of both worlds. For this reason, the use of push carts has exploded on golf courses around the country.
For sure, not everyone looks at golf as their only source of exercise for the week...nor should they. Golf is a game to be enjoyed, a sport to be played in the company of friends, and a competitive outlet for athletes. But if you can simultaneously derive some health benefits while you’re enjoying the game you love, why wouldn’t you? Walking the course, or walking and using a push cart, allows you to do this.
Are There Real Physical Benefits to Walking?
Several years ago, Neil Wolkadoff, the Director of the Rose Center of Health and Sports Sciences in Denver, CO conducted a study to answer this question. He wanted to quantify just how much of a benefit could be attained by walking during a round of golf.
To do this he assembled a group of eight male golfers, aged 21->61 with handicaps ranging from 2->17 to participate in the analysis. He sought to scientifically measure the changes in heart rate, overall energy consumption, carbon dioxide production, lactic acid buildup, respiratory exchange ratios (RER), and total distance covered as these test subjects played multiple 9-hole rounds in different formats on a hilly golf course outside Denver: walking and carrying a bag, walking and using a push cart, and riding in a power cart. The findings, based on each 9-hole round, confirmed what you might have expected, but the results were surprisingly close:
Total Calories Burned
Walking/Carrying a Bag
Walking/Pushing a Cart
Riding in a Power Cart
While it’s no surprise that walking/carrying burned the most calories, what is surprising is that there was very little difference between carrying a bag versus using a push cart. And, as you can see, the number of calories burned when walking approaches 2x the amount burned when riding.
Another interesting finding was that players in the study who walked actually scored better than those who rode in a cart, suggesting that there are actual benefits to walking between shots rather than resting while driving to your ball. As Wolkadoff said, "It gets back to the idea that walking gives you a certain amount of time to think about a shot, to rehearse, go through the stuff. Where in a golf cart, you're holding on, then, boom, you've got to get up, go to the ball and make a decision pretty quickly."
Golf certainly doesn’t have to be measured in terms of how much exercise you’re getting. It’s the greatest game in the world regardless of how much physical exertion you experience.
But for those of you who are trying to incorporate health aspects into your life, you will definitely realize more benefits by walking when you play. Just as when you choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator as a way to build a little more exercise into your daily routine, choosing to walk during golf is a way to supplement your round with some additional exercise (not to mention that there’s a good chance that you will play better, too).
Based on the findings in Wolkadoff’s study, though, it may be advisable to start your new walking routine by using a push cart. The data shows that there is not much difference between carrying your bag versus using a push cart, and the strain on the body of carrying a 30-pound bag for 4 or 5 hours can have a negative impact on your fine motor skills and, therefore, on your game.
The popularity of push carts has been growing steadily over the past decade - perhaps it's time for more of us to join the ranks of push-cart enthusiasts. It will be good for your health, and your scorecard, too.
Visit the Golf Push Carts Page for more info.