America’s favorite racquet sport is an excellent choice for your health. A full-body workout, tennis engages numerous organ systems and muscle groups.
It is guaranteed to get your heart pumping, your quads and hamstrings firing, and your competitive side engaged—all while you enjoy time outdoors with a friend. Here is a look at nine physical (and mental) health benefits of tennis for people of all ages.
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Aerobic activity of any kind is great for your heart health. Jumping, running, and chasing all increase your heart rate and help to strengthen your cardiovascular system.
A 2017 study found that participation in racquet sports was related to a 56% reduction in death from cardiovascular disease. So get out there and start playing!
Aids Weight Loss
Engaging in aerobic exercise, like playing tennis, is not only good for your heart it may also help you lose weight. In a 2012 study, researchers found that obese men and women who added aerobic exercise to their routine five days a week lost significant amounts of weight over 10 months, even when they made no changes to their diets.
Depending on your weight and the intensity of your game, you can burn a few hundred calories per hour playing tennis. Combine this activity with a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight.
Increases Range of Motion
It’s no secret that playing tennis can do wonders for your physical health, but did you know that the sport can also improve your range of motion?
That’s because the main movements involved in tennis – such as swinging and reaching – are dynamic and stretching, two exercises that are excellent for lubricating your joints and strengthening muscles and tendons.
However, if you’re new to the game, it’s important to take things slowly at first to avoid injury. “Prior to your tennis match, a warm-up is important to reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance,” says registered kinesiologist and functional movement specialist Marian Barnick.
By gradually working your way up to the more difficult movements, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of tennis without putting your health at risk.
Joints need to be moved through their normal range of motion to get the blood flow into the muscles that will be used during playing; especially the shoulders, knees, and thoracic spine.
A number of controlled repetitions that are similar to playing movements is the best way to get your body ready,” says Barnick.
Playing tennis is a great way to improve your sense of balance. By using a racquet, you’re training your body to maintain its equilibrium while hitting and serving with a two-foot extension of your arm.
This coordination and sense of control will transfer to other areas of your life, making you more coordinated and balanced overall.
Decreases Osteoporosis Risk
When it comes to osteoporosis, it occurs when the creation of new bone can’t keep up with the deterioration of old bone, causing bones to break more easily.
This condition most commonly affects women and risk increases as a person ages.
While you might think that exercise would increase the risk of fractures, the opposite is actually true.
According to the National Institutes of Health, many types of exercise help prevent osteoporosis especially weight-bearing exercises.
In tennis, each time you raise your racquet, you’re working against gravity. By constantly doing this motion, you’re actually helping your bones grow stronger over time.
Being agile is important for many reasons. One way to help improve your agility is by playing tennis. Tennis requires quick movement back and forth, side to side, and diagonally.
Players also need to be able to change vertical positions for low, overhead volleys, and serves. This constant switching of movement helps train the body and brain to adapt quickly.
Enhances Motor Control
Being able to control your muscles while performing movements is crucial for playing tennis, according to Barnick. When swinging your racquet, your arm muscles need to be able to work properly while your core muscles stabilize your hips so you don’t fall.
Playing racquet sports can do more for your coordination than just making your arms and legs work together better.
The twisting, turning, and reaching required for tennis also helps to stabilize your core muscles. According to Barnick, this kind of exercise is better for developing your core than basic postural exercises or abdominal floor routines.
Increases Vitamin D Exposure
Vitamin D is important for a number of reasons, including a stronger immune system, improved heart health, and reduced cancer risk.9 However, many people don’t get enough of this nutrient.
Playing tennis outdoors is a great way to get vitamin D from the sun. Some studies have shown that the body receives the most vitamin D from sunlight near midday. So, if you can, schedule your match around noon.
However, don’t forget to wear sunscreen! Too much UV radiation from sun exposure can lead to skin cancer.
A Word From Verywell
For a workout that comes with a bounty of health benefits, put on your tennis shoes and get moving! If you’re new to playing racquet sports, make things simpler by playing doubles with a partner.
You can also start by trying a few games instead of playing a full set. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.