Psychology professor recommends golf to reduce stress

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 10, 2019 09:44

A 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 Center for Design & Health, University of Virginia, says golf is one way of benefiting from a regular ‘dose’ of green space to boost psychological wellbeing and physical health.

“I think to get out and play golf you are really helping manage your mental health in a very holistic way,” she said.

“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.

“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.

Jenny Roe

“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.”

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 per cent of people had felt so stressed they had been overwhelmed or unable to cope.

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, who reveals how playing golf saved him after depression left him suicidal at age 14. Read the report here:


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 10, 2019 09:44
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  1. Michael April 16, 10:55

    Thanks to have shared that research from Professor Jenny Roe. It’s so true!

    Reply to this comment
  2. mark April 10, 10:41

    Hopefully this research will help me convince my family and work colleagues that I need to spend more of my time playing golf

    Reply to this comment
  3. peter April 8, 12:20

    Sorry I don’t agree ! Well not fully ! Golf played as it was meant to be, walking can be a great stress reducer. Exercise, enjoying the scenery and time between holes gives us needed tools to combat stress. It gives us time to mentally prepare for the next challenge and forgetting what just happened.. Riding, adds to stress levels by recounting with others poor shots, poor behavior, poor attitudes that often lead to headaches, ulcers and sometimes heart attacks. There should be a study of walkers vs. riders. Mental toughness is a great tool to fight stress, that usually belongs to those who walk. Or should I say, allowed to walk !

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