Let's start with the obvious benefits that most active sports assist with:
- lowering resting heart rate and blood pressure.
- improving metabolic function.
- increasing bone density.
- lowering body fat.
- improving muscle tone
I could go on about the overall health benefits of sport in general, but what makes tennis unique is the variety movement it requires, making it a full body workout. It also challenges your mind, keeping your nervous system sharp, in addition to being a social game, which could enhance your overall happiness.
On the physical side of things tennis requires that you tap into a variety of different energy sources. You need energy to sprint for a drop shot, strength to jump for an overhead, endurance to play for hours. It challenges your balance and stability, which both decrease as we age. You also need a high level of mobility and flexibility in order to stretch for shots without injuring yourself. Tennis tones and strengthens every muscle in every way. You need lower body strength to jump, run, sprint and move in every plane of motion. You need a strong core when making contact with the ball and rotating your spin for ground strokes. You need upper body strength (including in the back) to be able to hold and swing the racket for hours on end. And that's just what it requires from your body!
Tennis also has the benefits of keeping your mind sharp and increasing your hand eye coordination. It requires alertness and tactical thinking. It is said to generate new connections between nerves in the brain thus helping to lower the risk of nervous system degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Tennis is also a social game, which I have to admit has taken me a while to see! When I first moved back to England, from living and training in the States, I wasn't used to this social side and only wanted to get on and off the court. However (maybe with age) I have begun to love this side of tennis. Players and members spend their weekends not only playing competitive matches but having long chats on the surrounding grass, sharing cups of tea (sometimes wine), enjoying meals together and having a social life outside of a pub!
With all these physical, mental and social benefits of tennis you can see why it's called the “sport for a lifetime”.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a racket and find a tennis court near you today!