How can I keep my legs fit enough for golf?

Jane mugshot for JQAI am an 86-​year old fit woman. I have been a keen golfer for a great many years but now I find it very dif­fi­cult walk­ing any dis­tance, which means I can no longer play com­fort­ably. How might I regain the strength in my legs, or is it some­thing I have to live with?

You say you are “fit”, so it’s a bit of a mys­tery why you find walk­ing so dif­fi­cult. Your start­ing point should be to get your GP to check out whether there are any under­ly­ing med­ical causes, such as neur­o­lo­gical prob­lems or car­di­ovas­cu­lar lim­it­a­tions, either of which could make your legs feel weak and tired. If you get a clean bill of health, you have prob­ably just lost a bit of your fit­ness in recent years, includ­ing all-​important muscle strength in your legs. The good news is, it’s never too late to recover it.

Do a real­ity check on your fit­ness. To keep your heart and lungs in good shape you should be out and about for at least five days out of seven, and walk­ing or doing other activ­it­ies at a level that makes your heart beat faster than nor­mal, for at least 30 minutes each day. That’s “brisk” walk­ing, rather than saun­ter­ing.

Although this will keep your heart in basic con­di­tion, you need a bit more fit­ness to last a full round of golf in com­fort. Starting with how­ever much walk­ing you can man­age, build up to an hour a day. Increase the walk gradu­ally and patiently, adding, say, three minutes to your walk time each week.

Also, vary your speed more: try one minute of faster walk­ing, then slow down until you feel recovered, then do another fast minute and so on. After a few ses­sions, try the faster walk­ing for two minutes before you slow down to recover and so on.

I am emphas­ising your heart and lung fit­ness because the extra boost to your sys­tem will help regain effi­ciency in your legs, too – mainly through bet­ter oxy­gen deliv­ery and energy pro­cessing.

Alongside this, start doing some quick and simple leg muscle exer­cises. Using a chair-​back for touch sup­port, stand with your feet hip-​width apart, heels and toes facing for­wards, and rise up on your toes. Hold for a count of 5 (keep on breath­ing), lower back down and repeat. Do this 10 times a day. Click here for the full exer­icse.

Next, with your back lean­ing against a wall and your feet hip-​width apart about one foot-​length away from the wall, put a slight bend in your knees and then pull your toes off the ground. Keep them pulled up for a count of 5, lower down and repeat 10 times daily. Click here for the full exer­icse.

If you can find a local “strength and bal­ance” class or tai chi for seni­ors, the exer­cises will help your all-​over strength, includ­ing back, bum and stom­ach muscles – all import­ant for the golf course. Don’t expect instant res­ults, but do set your­self a goal of get­ting back out and car­ry­ing on play­ing the game you love.

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