Winter Workouts… Outdoors!

“Dear The Golfing Doc. Do you have any suggestions for alternative workouts to help my golf fitness over the winter months? Thanks. Greg A. Seattle, WA.”

Golf is a very unique sport when it comes to fitness and conditioning. Some exercises can be good for your game while others can be quite detrimental to your game. It takes the right combination of knowledge about the human body plus experience in golf to help players. At my facility GOLFLETICA: The Art of Golf Performance & Wellness, my team helps golfers achieve their fitness goals as safely and efficiently as their body allows, regardless the time of year.

When it comes to fitness in the winter months here in the Pacific Northwest, the thought of a nice warm gym, a hot yoga studio, or even a heated basement sound more inviting for a workout. But at the same time, we cannot let the change in weather affect how we work out and what we do for a workout. With that in mind, if you are willing to bundle up and play golf in the cold, you can do some sort of outdoor activity to stay in shape over the winter.

In the Pacific Northwest, we have several year round outdoor activities that can help with your overall fitness and conditioning. Whether it is kayaking on Lake Washington, paddle boarding along Alki Beach, or entering a local 5 or 10K run, all of these are great forms of exercise. In fact, some activities can actually continue to work on your golf game even though you don’t even have a golf club in your hand. For example, kayaking is a great core exercise that also helps improve your torso rotation. Paddle boarding is also good for that and balance and stability.

There are two fantastic activities in our area that are great forms of fitness and can actually help with your golf conditioning. The first activity is skiing. This builds great endurance and strength in your legs. The legs are very important in your golf swing as that is where you develop power. Plus, the more stable you can become in your legs, the greater you can incorporate your torso in your swing.

The second great outdoor activity that can help you is hiking. Whether it is around a lake, park, or up a local mountain trail, hiking builds strength and endurance in your legs plus greatly improves your overall cardiovascular conditioning. You have the ability to choose the intensity and speed at which you hike regardless of terrain. This makes it easy to modify the hike to your own fitness levels and to push yourself as hard or as easy as you want. Imagine, if you can hike up a mile long trail to some lookout point, walking 18 holes should then be no problem in comparison. Depending on where you are hiking, you can even mix in a few golf-specific exercises. Just make sure you are in a safe area and don’t fall off an edge! Also, please practice smart hiking. Bring a friend, water, map if needed, and some snacks for your hike.

If you decide to go for that hike, here are a few golf-specific exercises you can try. But yes, you can also try these at home in a warm basement! These exercises focus on balance, torso rotation, separation, and core strength. Perform 10 repetitions for 1 to 2 sets. If you have any pain while attempting these exercises, please discontinue immediately and consult your physician before resuming.

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Dr.Sese is the Clinical Director at the Washington Golf Performance Institute in Bellevue, WA. He can be reached at drharrysese@gmail.com