The benefits of regular exercise are plain for all to see and are well documented. Despite this, literature reports that almost one third of adults across the globe are categorised as “physically inactive”, and alarmingly an NHS publication entitled Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet’ published in May 2019 reported that 29% of adults in Britain fell into the obese category.
In order to combat rising obesity rates, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and some cancers to name a few, current government recommendations indicate that we should all be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not one for endlessly pounding the pavements, flirting with near death experiences on the busy roads whilst sitting upon two wheels attached to a bit of carbon fibre or throwing chunks of iron around whilst clad in brightly coloured spandex in the gym then might I make an alternative suggestion…… Try Tennis.
Tennis is played by around 80 million people across the world and is often a lifelong sport for many as it lends itself to players of all ages. Recent publications show documented benefits of participating in tennis as a way of ticking off your 150 minutes of weekly exercise and combating some of life’s more unpleasant delicacies. There are benefits no matter what age you are, so lets take a look at some of them:
1) Increased Brain Power
Tennis helps to enhance neural connections and pathways in the brain which improves alertness and tactical thinking. Keeping you one step ahead of the game whether you’re trying to solve the countdown conundrum, impress your mates with your pub quiz knowledge or seeking to solve an issue at work, we can all benefit from a little extra brain power.
2) Reduced Stress
Tennis encompasses physical, mental, social and emotional challenges which better prepares you for managing stress. The social nature of tennis enables you to interact with friends and like-minded folk helping to take your mind away from the pressures of life. Although there’s no accounting for double fault rage. You CANNOT be serious!?
3) Better Hand-Eye Co-ordination
Tennis requires lots of everyday skills that contribute to good hand-eye co-ordination. Harnessing these skills enable you to develop abilities such as balance, agility, co-ordination and reaction times. Keep your eye on the ball!
4) Leaner Body
Did you know that just one hour of singles tennis is enough to burn between 580 – 830 calories. Which means you can have post play strawberries and cream and a glass of wine and STILL be in credit. Stalking off to retrieve wayward shots has never sounded so appealing!
5) Stronger Heart
Over SEVEN MILLION people in the UK are living with cardiovascular and circulatory disease in the UK. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by 53% by playing 3 hours of tennis a week. Tennis players showed lower incidences of cardiovascular disease compared to other sports.
6) Stronger Bones
SEVENTY-FIVE MILLION people across Europe, USA and Japan are affected by osteoporosis (a disease affecting bone density) meaning that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 years of age will experience osteoporotic related fractures. Playing tennis leads to healthier and stronger bones, even better news, it doesn’t matter if you started swashbuckling on court later in life, it still has benefits!
7) Higher Fitness Levels
Playing tennis 2-3 times a week leads to improved fitness levels, even at recreational level. Phwooar!
8) Better Upper Body Strength and Function
Here’s an interesting little fact. Hand grip strength relates to shoulder function and cardiovascular fitness according to a study published in 2016. And in another 2019 publication comparing tennis players to physically active non-tennis players, the tennis players showed better upper limb function and strength. Ace!
9) Stronger Leg Muscles
Playing tennis helps to strengthen your leg muscles which helps to keep you active and mobile into old age. An alternative to endless days of squatting and lunging like there’s no tomorrow perhaps?
There we have it, nine solid reasons to get down to your local club or gather some pals and arrange a hit around. I think tennis is a great sport that offers much and allows you to be as involved with it as much as you like. Clubs often run tennis related group fitness classes too which offers the chance to improve skills and fitness and maybe even make some new friends! So, what are you waiting for? Lace up those shoes, dust off the racket grab a friend and get started on a healthier happy you!
British Heart Foundation Fact Sheet – https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/our-research/heart-statistics
NHS publication on obesity – https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-obesity-physical-activity-and-diet/statistics-on-obesity-physical-activity-and-diet-england-2019
Lawman HG, Troiano RP, Perna FM, Wang CY, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Associations of Relative Handgrip Strength and Cardiovascular Disease Biomarkers in U.S. Adults, 2011-2012. Am J Prev Med. 2016;50(6):677-83.
Pluim BM, Groppel JL, Miley D, Crespo M, Turner MS. Health benefits of tennis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):201-2.
Jackson MJ, Roche DM, Amirabdollahian F, Koehn S, Khaiyat OA. The Musculoskeletal Health Benefits of Tennis:. https://doiorg/101177/1941738119880862. 2019.