Is Carrying a Golf Bag Good Exercise?

Golfing has long been known as the sport of all generations since it is a game people can play well into their golden years. Golf requires a lot of skill, something you would know if you have ever attempted to accurately hit a golf ball. Because golf does not require running and is not a team sport, some people do not think it is good exercise.

However, golf can be an excellent source of exercise, especially if you walk the 18 holes instead of using a golf cart. Perhaps the best source of exercise in golf stems from being your own caddy and hauling your golf bag all over the course, as your loaded golf bag can weigh up to 50 pounds! 

Sounds like a good workout, right? The physical benefits of a good round of golf seem to evade people as of late, but this article will focus on explaining how and why carrying your golf bag at your next game could be an excellent source of exercise.

Source: Why carrying a golf bag is more exercise than you think

Carry a bag provides that extra additional workout benefit vs pushing a cart.

Playing a Healthy Game

Some of the golfing greats have been overweight and quite unhealthy, which probably only added to the rumor that golf is not a physical sport. Arnold Palmer pretty famously had a cigar or cigarette in his hand during most rounds and even starred in some cigarette commercials during the height of his career. 

Resource: How much does a golf bag with clubs weigh?

Other pros and casual golf players enjoy indulging in a nice, cold beer (or four) on the course as well. However, not only do these things contribute to a less accurate game on your part, more committed players nowadays take the physical aspects of the game much more seriously.

In order to get the most out of your golf game, you must first understand what aspects are going to give you the highest benefits. Walking around the green for 18 holes obviously provides more exercise than riding in the golf cart, but something as simple as carrying your own golf bag can help you build even more strength and endurance.

Walking around the golf course helps to increase your heart rate and builds the muscles throughout your legs. Adding a little extra weight to that from your golf bag will only add to your strength and stamina training and will help to improve your game!

Resource: Stand Bag vs Cart Bag: Which one should I use?

Being Your Own Caddy

Depending on what you are carrying in your golf bag, caddying for yourself can have huge benefits to your overall health. It is worth mentioning that if you are not used to a heavier load of exercise initially, it is a good idea to build your way up to a full bag, especially if you like to keep more than just your clubs in your golf bag!

Playing a round of 18 holes can include walking up to four miles. As walking the length of the course builds the muscles in your legs, hoisting around your golf bag while doing so will boost the strength training in your legs, as well as help build the muscles in your upper body, such as your:

  • Biceps
  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius muscles
  • Abdominal muscles

The average golf bag contains anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds of equipment, so if you know you will be carrying your bag, it is a good idea to keep your personal physical abilities in mind. A general rule of thumb is that your bag should not weigh more than 20% of your body weight. 

Resource: How to get ready for the golf season (9 Tips)

In addition to building muscle and being a great source of exercise, caddying for yourself is an easy way to save some money. Golf can be an expensive sport, and with equipment, special clothes, and fees to play, the dollars can add up—no sense in renting a golf cart or hiring a caddy if you do not need to.

The other option is to get a quality push cart. This can save some stress on your body.

What Should Be in a Golf Bag?

There are a few things that every golfer keeps in their bag, but it is important to remember that you will be hauling the bag for up to four miles during your game. You have to find a healthy middle ground between being under prepared and overpacking your golf bag.

In addition to their clubs, golf balls, water, and gloves, the best golfers never hit the links without a few extra things in their bag:

  • A towel to wipe down their clubs
  • Sunscreen 
  • At least three extra sleeves of balls
  • Plenty of extra tees 

Keep in mind that your clubs, when added from your 3 iron to your 9 iron, weigh about 6.5 pounds, so anything additional in the bag will continue to add weight. If you are not used to carrying your bag around but want a little extra exercise during your game, consider starting your bag weight as low as possible and then build from there to avoid injury. 

Resource: Calories burned playing golf

Pushing Your Bag in a Golf Cart

Another option golfers have when playing is to use a golf cart to push their equipment around the green. Doctors have estimated that the physical benefits of pushing your clubs in a golf cart as opposed to carrying your golf bag are ultimately the same, at least when it comes to calories burned. 

Carrying a Golf BagPushing a Golf Cart
Burns about 1,442 calories per 18 holesBurns about 1,436 calories per 18 holes
Costs on average about $200+Costs about an additional $160+ 
Builds more muscles in upper bodyIs easier on your back/body overall

Therefore, if you are wanting to supplement your exercise as you play golf due to a desire to lose weight or lower the risk of heart disease, there is no reason why you should carry your clubs over pushing them in a cart.

Resource: Are push carts worth it? (complete overview)

On the other hand, if you are trying to build your muscles, pushing a cart is not as effective as carrying your bag the old-fashioned way. The actions of picking up your bag and carrying it around helps to build your arm and neck muscles as well as strengthens your core.

There are golfers that have a higher risk of back problems or can not lift a heavy golf bag due to an injury and should therefore consult with their doctor before performing any exercise. However, in these cases, it is probably safer for these golfers to wheel their golfing equipment in a cart over carrying them.

Recommended Push Cart

Final Thoughts

You may have heard that the road to healthier living is paved with small, daily decisions that are made on a consistent basis. Doctors encourage their patients to take the stairs instead of the elevator, drink one extra glass of water, and consider parking farther than usual from the store to get a couple extra steps in.

Although golf has not always been viewed as a great form of exercise, there are ways you can make the sport a little more active. By walking your golf bag around the course during your game, you are more likely to get your heart rate up and sweat a little, both of which are excellent indicators that you are getting in some exercise.

Carrying a golf bag is not as intense or hard on your body as a high-intensity interval training workout or even a formal weight lifting session, but it is a perfect physical boost for those that are older or do not want to train at a more intense level. If nothing else, carrying a golf bag gives you an opportunity to get a little more exercise while you play!

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