This piece could have been titled “Golf and your health” but I wanted to make sure I have your attention. I will now reveal a third reason why I continue to play golf despite a painfully slow learning process during my first year in the fairways. The first reasons mentioned in my very first column were fellowship with BCBP and nagging by my wife Tess as one. Second comes business contacts.

And that third reason is . . . health. Golf has spectacularly reduced and almost totally healed my asthma. God is Good! No additional pills, no more fancy inhalers . . . just golf (and prayers of course!). More than 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with “Adult-Onset Asthmatic Bronchitis” a technical and better sounding term for “hikang matanda.” I was then introduced to a new set of pills called bronchodilators, anti histamines and steroids. Fancy shaped inhalers of various colours had also become regular occupants of my pockets and travelling bags. When I took up golf in 2006, I pleasantly found out that I was depending less and less on medication as I played the game more often. With the Lord’s mercy, my episodes these days have been reduced to mild transient allergies that go away quite quickly.

Let me share some personal health tips I have gathered from experience and which most everyone knows anyway. Note dear Reader: I am quite a qualified and registered doctor but my patients are not humans (I am a pig doctor!). I am writing these from my experiences as an asthmatic golfer.

1. Ditch the golf cart. It’s the walking that is the most health beneficial aspect of this game. That, in effect is your cardio exercise for the day. Admittedly, however I resort to golf carts when my feet start to act up due to my flat footedness.

2. Try playing in the morning as early as you can – when the dew drops just begin to evaporate as the sun rises. That, to me, had the most healing effects on my breathing problems with asthma. That’s a trick I learned from Bro Eric Gustilo. It also saves money by reducing the need for too much sun block lotion as it reduces direct sun exposure.

3. If you are smoker (Oh yes! There are chaps who smoke while playing golf) try leaving your box of cigarettes at home. I personally avoid caddies who smoke as I end up inhaling the fumes as well since that defeats the purpose of the exercise. If I end up with a smoking caddie, I admonish him – gently – as he might give a false reading of the green and make me miss my putt.

Golf has greatly subdued my asthma and I am quite sure it has kept my blood sugar within normal limits as well. However, my cholesterol level has remained higher than normal.

So here are my own personal notes for other health issues.

4. Cholesterol. Avoid the hard boiled eggs so commonly served in the tea houses in any golf course. Curb the post game appetite. Golf should help you lose weight as well – indeed it can. Unfortunately, golf is an appetite stimulant!

Imagine this after 18 holes: you take a refreshing shower, you feel so good after the exercise. And so your appetite is now at its peak and your mind is telling you it’s ok to binge because you’ve earned it. Now, nothing would be better than a bottle San Mig light or two. (I do that, that’s why I know). You look at the menu and there’s chicharon, there’s sisig, there’s crispy pata etc.

Medical literature would actually say that it is thirst and not really hunger that one feels after a game, but tired golfers can’t tell the difference. I can’t give advice I don’t follow, so I can’t help you here.

5. Hypertension. The game may actually worsen your hypertension if you are not careful. That is why I try to avoid the betting as it just compounds the pressure. Enjoy the game. Forget about that mulligan shot that still flies out of bounds. Forget that that there is a large body of water separating you and the green just 100 yards away. I have been on blood pressure pills for years, so I can’t help you here either.

6. Aching Feet. Let me end with something I am quite familiar with. Being flat footed has not bothered me since birth until now. Perhaps due to the prolonged walking for 4 hours around 18 holes for maybe 3 to 4 miles has taken its toll on my flat feet. I have resorted to arch and heel support cushions and it helps tremendously. If not I take a cart – so I end up either avoiding the asthma or avoiding the aching feet.

As far as asthma is concerned, I am peacefully breathing better now. Although I still get the odd wheeze every now and then, I can easily get over these quickly and easily. At most, all it takes is an allergy pill or two. Prayers, of course, help a lot as asthma can also be triggered by work stress.

But have this in mind, dear brother or sister. If in fact you are a diagnosed asthmatic and you decide to hit the fairways for the first time, see your doctor first. And have him check whatever else you might have before taking up the game.

Now if I could only find a pill that would cure my slice…

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