Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world, and with its wide range of health benefits, it’s easy to see why.
Tennis is played by two players, singles or four players, called doubles. Players hit the ball over the net using specially designed racquets, with matches lasting anywhere from 60 minutes to 4 hours at the pro level.
Various strokes are needed to play tennis, including serve, forehand, backhand, volley, and smash. Tennis also requires you to move in every direction and is a great way for people to improve their agility. The game is fast, demands good decision-making, and requires aerobic fitness.
Tennis is played professionally, but its best quality is it can be played with friends and family. Many players love the social aspect of playing tennis, and we’re sure you will too.
Why tennis is good for you
Whether you’re an experienced player or a beginner, tennis is an excellent way to improve your overall health and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That would mean you can enjoy a game of tennis five times a week for about 30 minutes each time.
Among other things, playing tennis can improve your:
Range of motion and flexibility
Decision-making and even your social skills
Tennis also offers a great total body workout, engaging your core and demanding upper and lower body strength. Your legs get a good workout as you chase down each shot, and your core should remain tight while you play your strokes.
Five health benefits of playing tennis
Tennis is fun and allows you to socialise with friends and family while enjoying being outside. But tennis also has health benefits that can last a lifetime. Let’s look at five health benefits that come from playing tennis regularly.
1It boosts cardiovascular health
Whether it’s tennis, going for a walk, or taking a swim, sporting activity strengthens your heart and boosts your cardiovascular health. When playing tennis, your heart rate rises, and your breathing gets faster, forcing more oxygen and blood to flow through your body.
A study published in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine found that people who played racquet sports such as tennis and squash were 56% less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, racquet sports showed a 47% reduction in all-cause mortality.
2It provides social interaction
To play tennis, you need a partner; unless you want to hit yourself on the wall, which incidentally is a great workout. But one of the biggest benefits of playing tennis is the social aspect. There’s nothing better than laughing with your friends, enjoying the sun, and having a cheeky glass of wine at the club on a Sunday afternoon.
A study by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society has shown that face-to-face social interaction can significantly reduce stress, depression, and anxiety in older adults.
Another study has linked a lack of social interaction with higher increases in cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, and cancer, which makes getting out on the court with a friend that much more important.
3Improves balance and range of motion
One of the most important skills required to play tennis is balance. Running flat out and then hitting your forehand takes tremendous fitness, agility, and balance. Tennis is an excellent way for people to improve their balance while getting fit and having fun at the same time.
Because of the variety of physical movements required to play tennis, it serves (pun intended) as one of the best ways for people to improve their range of motion (ROM). Serving, groundstrokes, and volleys all use different muscles, bones, and joints, making tennis the complete all-around sport for increasing one’s ROM.
Many of the movements in tennis mimic those of dynamic stretching, which has been shown to play a critical role when it comes to strengthening muscles, improving balance, and increasing ROM. Dynamic stretching, along with a proper warm-up, is also essential for preventing tennis injury.
4Supports weight loss
A tennis match can last anywhere from 60 minutes to 3 hours requiring players to have a good base level of aerobic fitness. Of course, the duration of these matches means that tennis is an effective way to shed that unwanted belly fat.
A 2012 study conducted by the Obesity Society looked at both men and women who participated in aerobic activity five days a week for ten months. The study found that, on average, participants lost between 4.9 kgs and 5.6 kgs of body weight.
According to the University of Rochester, depending on your intensity level, a 160lb or 72kg person can burn 504 calories in 60 minutes playing tennis. Combined with a healthy diet, it’s easy to see why tennis is the perfect sport for fat loss.
5Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones causing them to deteriorate and or break. It most commonly affects older women but can affect men too. Exercising to reduce the risk of osteoporosis seems counterintuitive, but in fact, weight-bearing exercises like tennis help to strengthen the bones. Creating power in tennis starts from the ground up, and it’s this action that helps to strengthen the ankles, knees, and hips.
Five tips to avoid tennis injury
As with any sport, injury is possible, but by following these five injury prevention tips, I’ve outlined below, you’ll be able to enjoy the wonderful game of tennis for years to come.
1Make sure you feel ok before going to the court
Before you start any physical activity, you should schedule a check-up with your local healthcare provider to ensure you’re in good physical condition. Tennis is a great sport but also physically demanding, so make sure you’re healthy before hitting the courts.
2Always do a warm-up
The most common cause of tennis injuries is players either not warming up correctly or at all. Playing tennis with cold muscles is a surefire way to strain a muscle or, worse, sprain your ankle. A good warm-up only takes 10 minutes and should include light aerobic activity and dynamic stretching.
3Additional training won’t hurt
Tennis is quite demanding, so supplementing your physical conditioning with other types of training is highly recommended. Sporting activities like weight training, running, cycling, and swimming are excellent options to improve your fitness and, importantly, your tennis.
4Learn the correct technique
Another cause of injury is poor technique. Tennis requires you to learn some pretty complex strokes, so having good technique will help to mitigate the chance of injury. I recommend booking a few private lessons with your local pro or joining some tennis classes to improve your form and meet new friends.
5Choose days with good weather for your outdoor training
Tennis is typically played outside, so make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Items like hats, light clothing, and sunscreen will help prevent sunstroke. Ensure you’re adequately hydrated and resting in the shade between games and sets. Likewise, if the court is slippery, postpone your game until the courts are dry.
Top Tip from Healthypedia
The white painted lines on tennis courts are very slippery when wet, so be careful.
Sum it up
Tennis is a game that anyone can enjoy, and the physical, cognitive, and social health benefits can last a lifetime. To prevent downsides of tennis – aka possible injuries – you can learn the correct technique, do warm-up and additional training, and make sure you won’t hit the court in bad health or bad weather. If you’re new to tennis, sign up for some group lessons at your local club and start enjoying all the benefits this great game has to offer.
Want to learn more?
Based on research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, this fun, animated video clip shows all the health benefits of the wonderful sport of tennis. From increasing your brain power to improving your hand-eye coordination, tennis offers a range of health benefits. And the best part? You get to play outside in the sun with your friends.
Receive Exclusive Tips & Weekly Digest – subscribe to our newsletter