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Tennis delivers health and happiness – try it and see for yourself

Jan 13, 2015
written by: Catherine Cameron
written by: Catherine Cameron
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Are you among the hundreds of thousands of Canadians resolved to live a happier, healthier, more active life this year? Is this the year you’ll make time for more fun, spend more time with family and friends, or try something entirely new?

Just as making resolutions and setting realistic goals to achieve them is important, so too is recognizing that every day offers a fresh start – so if you’ve already broken your resolution (as most of us quickly do), don’t throw in the towel… keep going. Carpe Diem!

I recently shared 52 Reasons to be Active in 2015Many of these reasons relate to proven physical and mental health benefits. We know for example that exercise enhances heart health, can help treat depression, helps prevent osteoporosis, and even helps our kids perform better academically.

Today however, I thought I’d address more specifically, the benefits of playing tennis. I play because I love the sport, and not because I’m particularly good at it. The “game” to me and my family, is usually an hour or two of rallying… after which we usually have to hunt down a few of our balls on the far side of the fence! But in playing at our community club each spring, summer, and autumn, we’ve met people of all ages from our neighbourhood, enjoyed lessons and camps, and have eased back into a favorite activity we’d put on hold upon having kids.

 

Physical Health Benefits:

  • Tennis burns fat and improves cardiovascular fitness as most sports do – but tennis is considered a lifetime sport and can be easily adapted to the needs of players of all ages and abilities. Wheelchair tennis is growing in popularity; larger balls make the game easier for the game’s youngest players; and even those who are visually impaired can participate.
  • Want to tone up and build stronger muscles in your legs? Try tennis! All those starts and stops required to play, will pay off!
  • Hitting balls while running; starts and stops; and acquiring the ability to change direction quickly, will help you acquire a better sense of athletic (dynamic) balance – a predictor of overall athletic success no matter what your sport may be.
  • Tennis increases our agility as we learn to turn, move our limbs, and pivot quickly. In everyday life, improved agility can mean fewer falls, injuries, and time on the sidelines.
  • Regular tennis participation promotes whole body coordination – the ability to use our senses and body parts to perform tasks smoothly, efficiently, and accurately. View this clip of Eugenie Bouchard in action and you’ll see what we mean.
  • Tennis enhances gross motor control by engaging the larger muscle groups of the body (i.e. muscles required to get into position and to strike the ball). The next time you play, take a moment to think about the various muscles you’re engaging. Haven’t played in a while? You may be more aware of those you engaged the very next day!
  • Tennis is a fantastic way to cross train, build speed, and boost performance in other sports and activities. As a runner, tennis helps me build leg, core, and lower body strength, which I also appreciate come ski season.
  • A weight-bearing activity, tennis helps strengthens bones in younger players and helps maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis in older ones.
  • As players judge timing and distance, they improve their hand-eye coordination which results in improved reaction times and enhanced agility.
  • The bending, stretching, reaching, and maneuvering required to return the ball, can help usincrease and maintain flexibility.

Psychological/Mental Health Benefits:

  • Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce and manage stress.
  • Tennis, because it’s played with a partner or as a team, is a social game. Many people have so much fun playing, that they forget they’re also exercising.
  • Regular tennis participation improves self-confidence and can lead to a more positive body image. As we improve at the game and start to see and feel our bodies growing stronger, we begin to view ourselves more favourably.
  • Exercise makes us happier! Studies show that regular physical activity gives people a more positive outlook. Beat the blues and even treat mild-to-moderate depression with exercise.
  • Tennis teaches us teamwork – an essential skill on the court playing doubles, or working with others at school, in the workplace, on teams, etc.
  • Tennis teaches us to win and lose with dignity and grace – something we all need to be able to do on and off the court.
  • Tennis embodies the values we admire most: grace, honour, sportsmanship, integrity, etc.
  • Tennis is FUN – and when something’s fun, we want to stick with it. No wonder so many Canadians enjoy tennis for life!

Tell us what tennis means to you @Tennis_Canada and @Cate_Cameron #TENNISisCANADA