Volleying into Improved Health with Tennis
Getting enough exercise can be a real drag, especially if you are mentally tired from a long day at school or work. That’s why so many people turn to sports to turn movement into a game, making exercise fun and competitive if necessary. There are plenty of sports to choose from, but today we will focus on the health benefits of one of the world’s oldest sports: tennis. Healthline goes into more detail about tennis as fitness in their article “Is Tennis Good Exercise? All You Need to Know.”
Tennis as a Workout
Most of the physical benefits of tennis are related to working the cardiovascular system, as you increase your heart rate and breathing as you play. It also incorporates large lower body muscles during fast side-to-side and front-to-back moves, as well as the upper body muscles involved in swinging the racket.
So, depending on the intensity at which a player participates, tennis can be a total-body workout for cardiovascular fitness as well as a workout for better muscle endurance and strength. It can be a major calorie burner as well. The CDC classifies singles (one-on-one) tennis as a vigorous-intensity activity. Generally speaking, a 154-pound person should burn 220-295 calories engaged in 30 minutes of vigorous activity, according to the CDC.
People playing for general fitness play on average 60 to 90 minutes, but players of competitive tennis can play matches that range from 90 minutes to almost 3 hours. Either way, it’s a great way to burn calories, be social and get some fresh air (if playing outdoors). Combined with a healthy diet, tennis and other dedicated exercises can support weight loss as well.
Other Health Benefits of Tennis
If you want a killer cardiovascular exercise that makes muscles stronger and improves endurance, balance, coordination and agility, tennis is a good option. As a sport that requires a partner to be fully played, it also can help to increase social interaction and a sense of community. As you continue to play with friends and acquaintances over a longer period of time, physical stamina grows along with your social well-being.
Tennis is a lifetime sport that you can adapt to whatever stage of life you are in, especially since it is low-contact. Therefore, the risk of injury is lower than contact-heavy sports like basketball and soccer.
It’s good for the health of your heart as well. A scholarly article for the American Journal of Sports Medicine detailed a study that found that people who play racket sports had a 59% reduction in cardiovascular disease-related mortality, as well as a 47% reduction in mortality of all health causes.
If you feel you need better balance, coordination and posture, tennis can also help you work on that. Tennis uses a lot of lateral movement, as well as forward and backward footwork, yet the side-to-side movement is what most challenges balance and coordination. Direction changes needed to chase a ball also improve muscle function and balance.
Getting the most out of your tennis workout
- Lessons in a group or private setting can be helpful to learn the right techniques.
- Play with opponents of all skill levels, switching it up to challenge yourself as well as giving others a chance to learn the game with you.
- Remember to warm up so you will play well and avoid injury. Dynamic warmups before playing are recommended. Utilize static stretches for after-match recovery.
- Make a point to use proper form, as it will improve your skills and help reduce the chance of injury.
- Keep your eye on the ball and stay alert. Try to keep moving as much as you can.
- Play alone or with a friend. When alone, hit against a wall or use an automatic tennis ball launcher.
- Try out different surfaces. Some surfaces are more forgiving on the joints than others. The three main types are grass, clay and hard court (often concrete).
- Strength training can also help improve your health and your game.
M.S. Sport Health Science- Tennis Fitness & Sport Science Track at Life University (Life U)
For those with a more advanced commitment to the sport, Life U’s Master of Science Sport Health Science- Tennis Fitness & Sport Science Track is a unique opportunity to turn that passion into a viable career path. Learn more at life.edu.