Tennis is an amazing lifelong sport. From a preschooler just learning eye-hand coordination to a competitive college athlete to seniors in a doubles tournament. At any age and any stage, tennis can provide valuable health benefits.
Tennis can be enjoyed by those who want to push their fitness to the next level or just casually enjoy the game. And there is a lot of research to back up the claims that tennis benefits your health (perhaps even more than other popular sporting activities).
We compiled what we believe to be the top 5 health benefits of tennis that are most often overlooked:
1. Dynamic Balance
You might not think much about your balance now, but it is one of the key drivers of maintaining mobility and independence as we age. The quick movements and turns, looking overhead and reaching outside our base of support during tennis challenge our balance. Improvements in reaction time, coordination, and agility also contribute to improved balance reactions.
2. Better Bone Health
We may feel our muscles working during a tennis match, but our bones are becoming stronger as well. Studies show an increase in femoral neck bone density (that decreases risk for hip fractures) in tennis players. The benefit comes from the jumping, twisting, and rapid acceleration. This increases ground reaction forces through the bone, a stress that results in the bone building itself stronger to handle the load.
3. Healthy Body Composition
Exercise burns calories. Bursts of exercise – like crossing the court to get to a ball – burns even more calories even after the game. In addition, the breaks between sets and gentle walk to switch sides of the court give your body a little recovery time. This “break” allows your body to stay in fat burning mode instead of becoming overstressed by a steady state workout. Competitive tennis players will actually burn more calories than skaters or cyclists.
4. Improved Overall Fitness
Overal fitness improves as you work your body aerobically and anaerobically. Aerobic exercise improves endurance and comes from the length of a tennis match. This improves the strength of your heart and lungs. Anaerobic components such as sprints and bursts of activity improve your muscle’s ability to use oxygen efficiently allowing them to fatigue less quickly. Additionally, there is upper body, lower body, and core muscle strengthening for a fitter body!
5. Better Mental Health
Lastly, a quality of life improvement that comes from tennis – better mental health. Studies show that tennis players score higher in optimism and self-esteem and lower in depression, anxiety, and anger. The higher mental vigor was seen in comparison to both non-athletes and athletes participating in other sports.
Lastly, a bonus benefit which is a big one – longevity.
One study showed that individuals who played tennis at a moderate intensity three hours a week decreased their risk of death by half. That is death in general from any cause!
I guess keeping our cardiovascular and muscular systems in top shape keep our bodies working optimally. And you don’t have to be a competitive athlete to reap these benefits. Just a casual game with friends can result in improved health and a better quality of life.
Is pain is keeping you from enjoying activities such as tennis?
Let us help you get that sorted out. A free phone conversation with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy can get you the answer you need for recovery and ease your fears that you won’t be able to play anymore. Click the link below to get started.