There’s no bad way to exercise – but some forms of movement are even better for us than others.
Tennis is one sport that packs extra benefits. On top of the physical exertion it involves, tennis also works our brain and allows us to socialise – all of which can help us live longer.
In fact, research from the Mayo Clinic in the US has found that those who regularly pick up the racquet add 9.7 years to their life on average.
So, what exactly is so great about a game of tennis? Apart from the fact hiring a tennis court is as easy as going to the gym (and there’s no membership required!), here’s how it can boost your life.
1. It’s cardiovascular
If you’ve ever played tennis, you’ll know it involves a lot of running around the court. That’s cardiovascular activity, which research suggests is the key to a long life.
A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association using data from 122,000 participants found that the people who had the greatest aerobic fitness also lived the longest.
So, whether you’re running to return a serve or running to pick up the ball you didn’t quite manage to hit back, it’s all helping your health.
2. It’s functional exercise
Personal trainer Alexa Towersey is a big advocate for tennis because it’s an easy way to improve our strength and balance.
“When it comes to fitness, I’m a huge fan of translating your gym gains into making your everyday life better,” she says.
With tennis, you get to improve and put into practice real world skills and athleticism: lateral (side to side) movement, rotation, single leg strength and stability, balance, proprioception and hand-eye coordination.
“Not to mention, it seems less like work and more like play, so for those who don’t particularly enjoy traditional cardio – and therefore are less likely to do it – it’s the perfect alternative,” says Towersey.
3. It trains your brain
You might have heard that regularly doing crosswords and sudokus can help stave off dementia. That’s because it’s a way to stay mentally alert and keep our brains healthy.
It’s a similar story for tennis. Because tennis involves strategy – by determining where to hit the ball or how to catch your opponent off guard – it can help keep the cerebrum firing. Tennis has even been used as treatment for those living with dementia.
4. It’s social
Tennis is a game for two. Or four. Whether you prefer singles or doubles, getting on the court is also a great way to socialise – something that boosts our health and happiness.
“Outside of the aesthetics of working out and the sports specific skills you’ll learn, tennis is a social sport,” says Towersey.
“You can sign up for lessons at your local tennis club and meet new people, you can grab your gang and hit the courts for a bit of friendly competition, and you can even encourage the whole family to spend some quality time together – it’s a great way to get the kids outside and active.”
And, adds Towersey, you might also learn patience, teamwork and sportsmanship along the way.
If you’re interested in improving your health, fitness and wellbeing with tennis, head to play.tennis.com.au and simply enter your postcode to hire a tennis court near you today.