This month I would like to turn our attention to how we fuel our bodies. Keep in mind your body is the engine that drives your golf swing. An average golfer walking 18-holes walks approximately 5 miles in the hot sun over a four hour period of time. If you have ever experienced fatigue on the golf course, noticed you were making bad decisions because you were not thinking clearly, stopped playing 18 holes all together and only play 9-holes, or you’re riding in a golf car instead of walking, discovering your hydration, nutritional & sleeping needs can be an important step in improving & enjoying your game.
Take sometime this winter to develop the HABITS of staying hydrated, eating well and getting good rest. Good habits you begin now can pay big dividends by spring.
Habit Number One: Begin each day with a glass of water and drink water throughout the day, don’t wait until you’re thirsty! Thirsty golfers are tired golfers who do not perform their best and make bad decisions.
Your golf machine (your body) is made up of 75% water and your brain is 85% water. Keeping your body properly hydrated will help your muscles functioning properly and your mind sharp. These are two key ingredients to a better golf game. Water helps with blood circulation, acts as a lubricant for the joints and is the main ingredient of the nucleus of the disc that supports the majority of our upper body weight.
As a general rule of thumb, take your body weight, divide it by two and that is the number of ounces of water you should drink per day. As we age it may not be as easy to recognize when we are dehydrated so developing good habits can prevent dehydration from derailing your game. It is critical to re-hydrate after we sleep, since during sleep our body works on elimination and it is imperative to replace our fluids. Most of us have a cup of coffee that can actually increase dehydration because it takes water from our system to assimilate into our body. 40% – 50% of your water intake should be during peak activity and the remainder as your day settles down.
Become aware of what your typical fluid intake is daily. Do you start the morning with a cup of coffee, followed by a few colas, and a few of your favorite alcoholic beverages in the evening? All of these beverages work on dehydrating your system. Pay attention to how you feel and begin to make changes that incorporate more high quality water into your system.
Habit Number Two: Eat several small meals, beginning each with a glass of water, fruits & veggies BEFORE your main course.
What we eat is as important as what we drink. Three main food groups will help your game: Good Carbohydrates, Protein and Heart Healthy Fats. There are volumes written on these subjects and just about every talk show will be discussing them, so take the time this winter to learn what foods will work best for you.
It is not uncommon to see golfers grab a hot dog (bad fat & bad carbohydrates), a bag of chips (bad carbohydrates), a soda or beer (dehydrating) and a candy bar (bad fat) at the turn. By the 12th hole they start to feel sluggish because their body is fighting the BAD FUEL that was just put in their engine. Worse, some golfers go an entire round without any nourishment and their bodies shut down, they are tired, making bad decisions, scald a few shots.
You wouldn’t put sand into an engine. Putting bad food into your system will take its toll on you until your body can’t keep up with it anymore. The great news is some of the damage can be reversed by making better choices from this day on.
Habit Number Three: Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Learn to create the habit of allowing your body 7-8 hours to rest properly. TIP: If you are having trouble falling asleep, instead of counting sheep, count putts rolling into the hole from all directions and distances. This will not only help you sleep but also will boost your confidence on the putting green.
Proper sleep is often overlooked. Our bodies need to rest to replenish themselves. Many of you have the habit of burning the candle at both ends. Just like with poor nutrition, with inadequate rest your body will go until it can’t. Depriving yourself of rejuvenating sleep will not allow your body to make needed repairs.
A recent study showed that by depriving yourself of just ½ hour of needed sleep can reduce your alertness by as much as 32%. This decreased alertness can impair your memory and cognitive abilities. The good news is that this can all be improved by getting proper sleep.
Set a sleep schedule that includes a regular time to slow down your day before going to sleep and a rising time. Many people have trouble sleeping due to napping during the day, lack of exercise in natural sunlight or drug reactions from medications. Just as not enough sleep can work against you so can too much sleep. If you sleep more than 8 hours a day set that alarm clock and make yourself get up and get going. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are not maintaining regular sleep patterns.
No matter what your reason for playing golf, trying these tips will help you with a very important part of your golf game, YOU! Understand that making changes is hard work, so it is important to keep your goal in mind. If you want to play better golf, or just play golf for more years, now is the time to start. Don’t wait until golf season is upon us. Start the work now and reap the benefits all golf season long. The better you fuel your golf engine, the more you will enjoy playing the great game of golf for many years to come.