While there are athletic people who know various workouts to help them stay fit, there are those folks who can’t even reach their toes with two legs standing straight. Not all people are physically active and are engaged in sports or gym workouts. Not all people even have the motivation to rise up from their sedentary lifestyles and really do something to sweat out.
However, this doesn’t mean they would just give up, stay stuck and accept their fate of dying young because of this inactivity. Sometimes, it takes only one engaging sport or activity to help them change their ways and start living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Tennis is one of them.
Tennis is a racket sport that can either be played by an individual against a single opponent (singles) or by two teams of two players (doubles). Whether you’re doing it for mere recreation or for tournaments, playing tennis can help improve your overall health, including your physical and mental fitness.
There’s no doubt why it is referred to as a “sport for a lifetime,” that even some inactive and non-athletic folks enjoy it. Here are seven main reasons why.
- Tennis as a heart-friendly sport
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, lowering cholesterol, and being physically active are the main keys to reducing the risk of heart disease. The good news is you may enjoy these heart-friendly benefits while having fun with your pals.
Tennis enhances aerobic fitness by increasing your oxygen intake while playing, which makes your heart rate speed up and pump blood more efficiently throughout all muscles. Playing this sport is a great way to maintain your vigor and improve the immune system.
- Tennis as a muscle and bone builder
Tennis improves muscle strength on your core. Since you are engaged in constant stretching and changing directions from side to side and from up and down, the sport is able to exercise a variety of muscles in your arms, legs, and upper body.
The sport also has a positive impact on your bones. The best exercises for the bones, according to the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, are the weight-bearing ones, which forces your bones to work against gravity. Tennis is one of these exercises. The weight-bearing exercise helps reduce the rate of bone mass loss over time, which may lead to the development of osteoporosis as you get older.
- Tennis as a flexibility and coordination exercise
The racket sport requires the cooperation of your whole body. Tennis tests your balance, footwork, and hand-eye coordination through techniques and movements, such as predicting the timing between the oncoming ball and the right contact point. Tennis also requires you to think and act as quick as possible in sprinting, jumping, lunging, and changing direction.
All these tennis shots and movements improve the body’s capacity to coordinate controlled movements, which you can benefit from in other aspects of your life. Flexibility gives you a wider range of motion and reduces the risk of muscle strain. Coordination improves your balance which helps reduce physical injuries.
- Tennis as a fun way to lose weight
Have you ever wondered why there a lot of well-toned and hot tennis players? Tennis is a whole-body sport which includes swinging, pivoting, reaching, and running. These simple movements can help burn calories if you play tennis regularly and keep track of your diet.
Playing singles tennis for one hour can burn 600 calories for men and 420 calories for women. If it takes 3500 burned calories to lose a pound of fat, you can lose around half a pound per week if you spend about three to four hours of tennis each week. Besides, playing tennis is fun and can be addicting, so it would be easier to drop a few pounds without putting a lot of effort.
- Tennis as a brain booster
Tennis isn’t just beneficial to the physical health but to the mental health as well. According to the Neuropsychiatry expert John J. Ratey, exercises that require a lot of thinking, like tennis, can enhance brain function in terms of memory, learning, behavior, and social skills.
Tennis is a sport that allows you to use your mental skills while moving those muscles. The sport involves tactical thinking, agility, planning, and coordination of the different parts of the body, which is beneficial to keeping your mind sharp in the long run. The more you play tennis, the stronger and better your neural connections become.
- Tennis as a stress reliever
If you’re always stressed at work, you can use tennis as a great way to relax and reduce stress. By exerting yourself in this aerobic exercise, endorphins, or the group of hormones that make you feel good, are released by your body. Endorphins interact with the brain’s receptors to reduce the perception of stress and pain, increase optimism, and improve your mood. Tennis is also proven to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Tennis as a social, recreational workout
Unlike other sports that you can play solo, tennis gives you the advantage of achieving these above benefits while having fun with a companion. Imagine if you can sweat out and lose weight with a support of a loved one. You can alleviate stress with your closest friend. You can improve your heart health and enhance muscle and bone strength with the help of a partner.
Escaping from the pits of your sedentary lifestyle and changing into a better version of yourself wouldn’t be that hard if you have people who accompany you and are willing to jump and catch the ball for you, just like in tennis.
Mina Salva Cruz has always been fascinated by how sports can improve one’s overall physical and mental health in a more pleasurable way. She shares her insights by regularly writing for StrungOut, a one-stop-shop for tennis enthusiasts in Australia, providing high-quality tennis racquets, accessories, and sportswear from world-acclaimed brands since 1992.