Golf "improves mental health" says expert

Golf And Health Story

A leading psychologist has championed the role golf can play in reducing stress and supporting good mental health.

Professor Jenny Roe, environmental psychologist and Director of the Centre for Design & Health at the University of Virginia, says golf is one way of benefiting from a regular ‘dose’ of green space to boost psychological wellbeing and physical health.

“There’s a wealth of evidence, using robust, scientific methods, to show the benefits of ‘green exercise’ – exercise in the natural outdoors – compared to exercise indoors, including the gym,” said Prof Roe.

• Former Ryder Cup captain blasts Sergio Garcia

• Golf to have new world No.1 in time for Masters

“When you step into a green space, there’s a number of things that happen with both your physiology and your psychology. Your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in – the system that’s associated with relaxation – and your stress physiology actually changes. You literally manage stress more efficiently when you are in a green space.”

Prof. Roe’s insights appear in a new multimedia article titled ‘Golf Saved my Life’, published by the Syngenta Growing Golf campaign, highlighting golf and mental health issues and telling the story of young US golfer Sam Gerry, below, who reveals how playing golf saved him after depression left him suicidal at age 14.

Sam Gerry

Recent research from the USA and the UK demonstrate the widespread need for stress-reducing activities.

A 2018 study by the UK’s Mental Health Foundation revealed that in the previous 12 months, 74% of people had felt so stressed they had been overwhelmed or unable to cope. In the same study, almost 10% of respondents said they were stressed “all of the time”.

• Kuchar and Garcia set record straight in bizarre video

• Brandel Chamblee makes huge claim about Phil

A Gallup poll in the USA showed a similar trend, with only 17% of respondents saying that they rarely feel stressed.

Research also shows that women tend to report more stress than men, with one recent poll demonstrating a 78% to 66% difference.

Syngenta’s worldwide research report, The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf, demonstrates that the very things that attract women to the game align with Professor Roe’s insights, as well as with general stress-relief advice from institutions such as the UK’s National Health Service and the USA’s American Heart Foundation.

Professor Jenny Roe

The R&A, one of golf’s governing bodies, is also highlighting the issue, and will launch the first Golf & Health Week (April 15-19, 2019), a dedicated campaign to raise awareness of the health benefits of golf for people of all ages and abilities. One day of the week will specifically concentrate on the game’s mental health benefits (April 16).

• Carly Booth calls for greater equality in pro golf

Prof Roe, pictured above, added: “I think to get out and play golf you are really helping manage your mental health in a very holistic way.

“Contact with nature allows us to recover from brain fatigue, reduces our stress levels and improves our mood. In turn, improved mood is linked to what’s called the ‘broaden and build’ hypothesis, with an increased capacity for creative thought and cognitive flexibility that can – potentially – lead to new thought-action repertoires on and off the golf course, and improved performance.”

Share this Article

share-logo
twitter-logo facebook-logo

Latest Videos See all videos right arrow

play button
THE SIMPLE WAY TO FLUSH YOUR IRONS | with Ewen Ferguson
Ewen Ferguson
play button
DO THE TAYLORMADE P790 IRONS LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?
TaylorMade
play button
I TAKE ON THE BEST AMATEUR GOLFER IN SCOTLAND
angus carrick
play button
WHO WOULD USE THIS GOLF CLUB? | TaylorMade 300 Mini Driver review
TaylorMade
See all videos right arrow

Golf News

REVEALED - The most popular golf course on Instagram
Tony Jacklin critical of Europe's Ryder Cup "ball issues"
FirstPoint USA appoints former Scottish Golf man Duncan
THE BUNKERED GOLF PODCAST
Rory McIlroy secures landmark 20th PGA Tour title

Other Top Stories

Tiger Woods: Inside his $41million Florida mansion
The very best pubs in St Andrews
The Scottish Golf Course Emoji Quiz!
24 lies every bad golfer tells
Doug Sanders: The extraordinary life of golf's original playboy

Quick Fault 'n' Fixes See all videos right arrow

play button
A very individual golf swing and lesson
Watch
play button
Denis Pugh’s advice for those with a knee injury
Watch
play button
Increase your power
Watch
play button
A flatter swing plane will help cure your slice
Watch
See all videos right arrow