Tennis Serves Up a Host of Health Benefits

Tennis 6-23-14

Wimbledon begins on June 23. That’s the Grand Slam tennis tournament that takes place in England every year. It’s the only Grand Slam tournament played on grass. And it has a dress code—all of the players have to wear tennis whites. I like to watch every year and I’m sure some of you do as well.

 

Thinking about Wimbledon got me thinking about the benefits of playing tennis. It’s a fun, challenging game to play. It’s also a great way to socialize with friends and family. Like other types of exercise, it’s a great way to reduce stress. And since it’s a game of strategy, it engages your mind and may even promote better brain health.

 

Plus it’s a great aerobic workout. Tennis can help you:

 

  • Manage your weight. Running around the tennis court burns a lot of calories. A 160-pound person, playing singles tennis for an hour, can burn around 585 calories. Tennis also involves quick bursts of high-intensity activity, like when you sprint to chase down a ball. This burns more calories than working out at a moderate pace the whole time.

 

  • Strengthen your heart and lungs. Tennis is an aerobic exercise. This type of exercise increases your muscles’ need for oxygen. As a result, your heart and lungs must work harder to pump more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. Over time, this extra work improves how your heart, lungs, and blood vessels function.

 

  • Lower your risk for certain diseases. Adding aerobic exercise to your fitness routine can help decrease your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

 

  • Strengthen your bones and muscles. As you run around the court, your bones support your weight. This helps build and strengthen the bones in your legs, hips, and spine. The impact created by striking the ball with the racquet also helps build and strengthen the bones in your arms.  Tennis also works most of the major muscles in your body. As you run and jump, you’re working your legs. Swinging the racquet works your shoulders and arms. And, as you twist and bend to return the ball, your core gets a great workout.

 

  • Improve your balance, flexibility, and coordination. Tennis requires a lot of agility. You have to stretch, pivot, and maneuver quickly to return the ball. This helps increase your balance and flexibility. Plus tennis requires a lot of coordination. To get in position to return each ball, you need your eyes, hands, arms, legs, and feet to all work together. With regular practice, tennis can help improve your coordination.

 

If you’re already a tennis player, it’s time to dust off your tennis whites and hit the courts! Don’t just watch Wimbledon—set up a tournament of your own with friends. And for those of you who don’t play, why not give it a try? You don’t need much to get started. You’ll just need to find a court to play on and get a few pieces of equipment, like a good racquet and some comfortable tennis shoes. If you’re a beginner, it’s also a good idea to take some lessons, so you can learn the basics of the game and get a feel for how it’s played.