"Disc Golf As Exercise" thread, with actual data
I have seen and posted in threads in the past about whether disc golf is good exercise. It always seems that there are a few fitness buffs lurking around that scoff at the idea of it being a workout, and there are always a few overweight people who provide anecdotal evidence that it helped them lose weight.
I had been meaning to play a round with a heart rate monitor on for a while just to see how my body was reacting to the play, and I finally decided to do it today.
For reference, I am 5'9" 154 lbs approaching sub-10% bodyfat with high levels of cardiovascular fitness, so my results are for someone who is already fit. An overweight/out of shape person would have even better results than I did.
I played at Bradley Park in Peoria:
The holes at this course are most flat, however there is some elevation on the walks between holes including 1 large hill climb and 1 large hill descent. Overall, it is middle of the road in terms of elevation and length. You will get worse results at a short flat course, and better results at a long hilly course.
The temperature today was mid-80's with very high humidity. This is important because higher temps will cause higher heart rate, so my results were boosted by the heat.
I played solo so I was moving at a steady pace the whole round, and I also had taken an EC stack about 3 1/2 hours prior, so the effects of the stack should have been wearing off by then but it is possible that my heart rate was elevated at the time slightly.
Round length -- 57 minutes
Average heart rate -- 114 BPM
Maximum heart rate -- 135 BPM
Estimated Calories Burned -- 396
I glanced at my monitor often, and noticed that after I threw my heart rate tended to spike into the low 120's. When I was walking up a hill carrying my bag, I was in the 130's. When I was walking on flat ground, it dropping around 105. The only time I dropped below 100 is when I was waiting for a group ahead of me to let me play through.
What this means:
With my particular data set, it is clear that my round was not highly beneficial for my fitness. I hovered around 55-65% of my maximum heart rate for the majority of the round, which is not enough to get an anaerobic workout and rarely jumped into the cardiovascular improvement zone. However, my elevated heart rate levels DID keep me in the low intensity fat burning zone, where my calorie expenditure is lower overall than a truly tough workout, however the percentage of energy pulled from fat stores is high.
Although 396 calories burned in 57 minutes is not an "efficient" workout, the fact remains it is a LONG workout and many people play disc golf for even LONGER. A few months ago I used to play daily for at least an hour every day, so burning a solid 400 calories (mostly from fat) per day most certainly qualifies as exercise and would be part of a solid weight loss routine.
As many people know, the hardest part of losing weight is the mental part. The physical part is easy, it is purely the science of eating less calories than your body uses. Boosting your body's calorie burning with a fun activity such as disc golf is certainly beneficial for those trying to shed pounds.
All that being said, if you drink a couple beers during your round that you weren't going to drink otherwise, you are going to erase any of the positives. Since this is purely a fat burning exercise and not an aerobic workout, drinking your calories back gives you no gain. Also, if you play very slow or with large groups your heart rate will have more time to recover between throws and you probably won't see as good of results either.
I would advise anyone trying to lose weight through disc golf to pop a caffeine pill or drink a cup of black coffee before your round (to boost your heart rate and fat burning ability). I would also advise to play on the courses near you with the most elevation, since walking the hills while carrying your bag will be where your heart rate is the highest.
Conclusion from my miniscule sample size: fitness buffs who tell disc golfers to get some "real exercise" need to chill out and understand that there is still great benefits for the body if disc golf is the only physical exercise you do every day, especially for an overweight person.
Do the Geoff Bennett pre-throw routine, and your results will improve. :D
400 calories seems somewhat high for just an hour of disc golf... are you subtracting out your BMR calories for that hour or do the 400 calories include them? If it includes them I could see it, but then that would make that number a bit (unintentionally I'm sure) misleading... What did you use to calculate the calories?
I've been playing for about 4 1/2 months now and have lost a total of 35lbs so far by combining the exercise of 1-4 rounds of disc golf (average 2 rounds/day), 30 minutes of putting practice (2x 15-minute sessions) and 30-60 minutes of field work per day along with better portion control of my meals and cutting out late-night snacks. I still eat pizza, burgers, ice cream, etc. just not as much at each meal.
I started trying to lose weight about a month before I got into DG, knew I was in bad shape so I didn't even weigh myself to start (estimate 245lbs), but after a month of 4-hour intermittent fasting and tight calorie control with Loseit I was at 230lbs. I weighed in at 196lbs. this week, hoping to lose another 15-20 but I'll probably have to get serious about counting calories again if I want to lose that much more.
Disc golf is the only exercise I've been doing this summer, so from a purely anecdotal standpoint I would whole-heartedly recommend it as a (fun) exercise component of a weight loss program!
And no, BMR would not be subtracted from that, which would be a little over 60 calories. Nobody subtracts BMR when talking about calorie expenditure, although I could see why you would want to.
400 may be a tad high, which would be due to the elevated heart rate caused by high heat and the tail-end effects of my EC stack. However, the fact that my cardiovascular fitness is very high I think my numbers would hold up for the "average" person.
On an incredibly easy, flat course perhaps the calorie expenditure would drop down to the low-300's....then after subtracting BMR you might look at burning an extra 250 calories per hour. This number is still good for the type of person who gets mind numbingly bored with exercise and would rather just play a fun and easy game for a couple of hours. On a very hilly, challenging course I suspect the number could jump up closer to 500 calories per hour.
On a side note, for someone trying to build muscle and who is weary of doing too much cardio, disc golf would be a great muscle-preserving, low intensity cardio session that specifically targets fat stores at the 50-65% of maximum heart rate zone.
Disc golf may not be intense exercise, but it is some exercise and for the folks who would otherwise just be sitting on the couch it's a much better option.
I'd love to see the same analysis on my 2 home courses. They both kick my ass even when I'm well conditioned as both are around 2x bigger then the one you listed and hilly as hell.
here's one, the other sadly has taken the course out as it has new management :(
Im sure I burn over 1000 calories during a full round and its usually like 2+ hours to play for just 2 people and end up being 3+ with 3 or more people. During winter I do cardio on a bike but with these courses I just hit the course and play a half round alone for a quick cardio workout. I'd laugh at anyone that thinks discgolf can't be a real workout.
Side note: I got an obese friend of mine into discgolf this year and we went like 3x a week at the one I listed and the first couple of times he couldnt play the next hole after an uphill hole. Now he dropped more then 50 lbs mainly just from golf. He doesnt take care of himself and this was just me trying to get him healthy so he can watch his kid grow up.
Not only is disc golf a great way for an obese person to begin exercise, it can also be a catalyst to make them look for ways to exercise more.
When I began playing, I was missing shots because I would be out of breath by the time I would get towards the end of the round. The person I had become was holding me back from what I wanted to be. However, I was a couch potato and working out just to lose weight didn't ever work for me.
I remembered from playing football and baseball in high school that if I had something to train for then I wasn't exercising. This may sound silly to some people, but this was what motivated me to do something about my obesity. My health wasn't measured by a scale but by the distance I gained on the field and the accuracy I picked up by putting. My trophies, just like in the days of playing football, were the sweat drenched shirts I had at the end of practice. I've now motivated my wife to come out and join me as well in disc golf practice.
So I believe that not only is disc golf a great way to exercise in and of itself, as has already been pointed out, but I also believe that disc golf can motivate individuals to exercise more off the course as well. It gives them something to focus on that isn't a scale telling them that they aren't doing enough.
I am a so-called "fitness buff" and I've never said anything about disc golf not being decent exercise. In fact, one of my soldiers who was on the verge of being booted from the military because he was too heavy was able to stay in because I introduced him to disc golf. He had let himself get to the point that more strenuous exercise was nearly impossible as his joints would hurt, his muscles would hurt and he would easily vomit. Taking him to some of Colorado's more challenging courses helped him quite a bit.
Any physical activity is good. Disc Golf is fun, cheap and easy to play (yet difficult to master...hooking lots of people) and is much more beneficial than just sitting around all day. Does it help me as much as my gym sessions or a nice, long run? Nope. But it's way healthier than what a vast majority of Americans do...which is nothing.
For me. Disc golf is counter productive exercise. It takes just enough time and physical effort out if me that I don't feel like going to the gym or going for an actual run. It doesn't keep me thin or help me out in conditioning in any way.
It's probably a good after workout or post run activity. I've noticed that when all I do is disc golf I don't make the gym or get any beneficial exercise and I actually gain weight or become soft.
I also eat like a pig so my exercise needs are probably moreso than most
My opinion disc golf isn't really great exercise. Just take a look at the people who play the sport on your home course for proof of that lol
I agree disc golf is decent exercise. Especially some of the hilly courses or courses on Ski Hills. I also find myself tired after doing field work, throw after throw is a good test. I'm 5-10 and 208 as well so carrying an extra 30 pounds of fat helps get the heart rate up. I try and play 36 holes 5 times a week.
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