With the Australian Open beginning on the 16th January it seems like a good time to think about the health benefits of picking up a racket and playing tennis.
Tennis is a popular sport for people of all ages. Whether you’re 5 or 85, it’s a fantastic way to keep in shape. You can play singles or doubles, competitively or just for fun – it’s great for physical fitness, mental agility and social interaction.
If you’re curious to give it a go, look around for tennis courts in a local park or at your local fitness center. Or join a health club and take formal lessons, either on a one-to-one basis or in a group. Expert tennis coaching, especially in the early stages of learning, will set you up with the proper technique and ‘good’ playing habits for years to come.
Still not sure if tennis is for you? Why not take a look at these 10 health benefits and book a trial lesson to see if the ‘sport of kings’ ticks your boxes.
Health Benefits of Tennis
✓ Full Body Workout
Playing tennis hits every muscle in your body. Use your lower body for running and jumping, stopping and starting, and engage your core, shoulders and upper back as you hit the ball. Did you know that a 1 hour game of men’s singles tennis burns around 620 calories (420kcal for women)?
✓ Burn Calories and Fat
Assuming you have a challenging opponent, playing tennis means you’re constantly moving around the court – running, swinging, lunging, pivoting – burning a lot of calories and helping to shift excess body fat. In fact, tennis has been shown to be more effective in terms of calorie burning than cycling, weight lifting, dancing or playing golf.
✓ Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise
Playing tennis raises your oxygen intake and your heart rate, helping to pump oxygen and nutrients through the blood stream and to your muscles. This, in turn, helps your muscles to perform better and for longer. Anaerobic exercise means that additional bursts of energy are provided for quick, reactive movements.
✓ Keep Your Heart Healthy
Was it the Swedish tennis ace Bjorn Borg who said that a tennis match was like ‘a thousand little sprints’? Quick spurts of anaerobic exercise burn fat, up your heart rate and promote higher energy levels. Tennis matches usually take 1-2 hours (unless you play at a high professional level) which is great to maintain your cardiovascular health, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
✓ Build Strong Bones
Playing tennis is one of the recommended weight bearing activities that’s good for maintaining your long-term bone health. Regular exercise can increase peak bone mass, and also slow the rate of bone loss that naturally occurs to all of us after the age of around 30 years.
✓ Improve Balance, Coordination and Flexibility
Playing tennis engages your whole body – from positioning your feet and running around the court, to your arms and hands swinging the racquet, to your legs and torso providing the power to hit the ball over the net. Every movement is highly coordinated, requiring the flexibility and balance that protect your body from strain and injury.
✓ Enhances Brain Power
Tennis is a mental exercise as well as a physical one. You need to plan your next move, think through your playing tactics and develop a game strategy. The more you play tennis, the more ‘educated’ your neural connections for those types of activity will become and the more mentally agile you will be.
✓ Helps You With Other Sports Too
Playing tennis is an all-round sport that involves lots of different physical exercises – sprinting, jumping, strength and flexibility, physical stamina and mental agility. This is excellent preparation for a large number of other sports.
✓ Helps Develop Personal Discipline
Practice makes perfect – and nowhere more so than in tennis. Developing your game takes many hours of dedicated practice and plenty of patience, discipline and mental strength. But tennis is also a social sport – from cooperating with your doubles partner to interacting with the other team, and not forgetting the social scene at the club.
✓ Tennis Makes You Feel Good!
Finally, all that running around exercising in the fresh air has a mood boosting effect, and not just while you’re playing. Apparently, tennis players have a more optimistic outlook on life, with greater levels of self-esteem and lower levels of anxiousness and depression. Whichever way you look at it, playing tennis is good for both body and mind!
Take Home Message
Don’t just watch the Australian Open this January, but get out there and play tennis yourself! You should be aware of the numerous health benefits associated with playing tennis after reading this article.
This article is a guest post written by Dakota Murphey, a (BAHons) graduate who is passionate about healthy living and fitness, working alongside Wickwoods Country Club to bring you this article.