1st July 2021
Tennis: Improving lives for 900 years
The sport has numerous benefits for body and mind.
When a sport has been around for roughly 900 years, there must be something to it. That’s the case for tennis, which dates back to 12th century France, a time when windmills were the hot new invention of the day. That kind of longevity is no accident. Maybe people centuries ago couldn’t explain scientifically why tennis is so great, but they knew one thing for sure: Tennis is fun. These days we may have lots of health data that speak to the sport’s benefits, but they’re really just a bonus. As in previous centuries, the main thing is that tennis is fun. Still, it’s worth noting the many ways playing benefits you, even if it’s just to justify buying a new racquet or, say, some new shoes.
It’s socially distant.
Although vaccinations have increased and we’ve gained ground on the pandemic, COVID safety remains high on people’s minds. We’re all well aware of the six-foot rule, but tennis courts are 78 feet long. Outdoors or indoors, that’s a lot of space. Unsurprisingly, tennis had a very good 2020. According to research by Sports Marketing Surveys cited by the U.S. Tennis Association, tennis participation increased by 22% last year. That includes nearly seven million new or returning/lapsed players, nearly half of whom were first timers. Entry-level racquet sales surged by 40%. The USTA is working to keep those newbies hooked, but it may not have to do much—the sport is famously habit-forming.
All ages and abilities are welcome.
Speaking of habits, people tend to stick with tennis their whole lives. It doesn’t tax your body like high-impact sports, so it fosters participation even late into life. The sport can be played with youthful aggression, leisurely congeniality, and all points in between.
RULE NO. 075
Tennis whites. And blacks. And blues. And browns. And yellows.
The health benefits are staggering…
Even basic searching online returns a trove of information on how playing tennis is good for you. Research by the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found tennis players enjoy lower body fat, better bone health, better lipid profiles (cholesterol etc.), and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Tennis also offers 56% lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. Other benefits include increased range of motion, better balance, reduced risk of osteoporosis, and lowered stress and anxiety. Even rolling on a tennis ball helps with muscle tension..
…and it can extend your life.
Research from the Mayo Clinic found tennis had the highest life-expectancy gains of any sport: 9.7 years. That means tennis players live nearly 10 years longer than sedentary people. By comparison, running and swimming came in at only 3.2 and 3.4 years.
Tennis also helps your brain.
Perhaps no other sport requires as much tactical, in-the-moment thinking while also working your body. Tennis players have to be creative as they play, and the complex coordination between those tactical decisions and body movements gets neurons in the brain firing and establishing new connections. That can help improve brain function overall, according to the United States Professional Tennis Association.
Kids can especially benefit from it.
While tennis is something people can start at virtually any age and enjoy their entire lives, research indicates children and adolescents can benefit from it in particular. According to a survey by Monitoring the Future, kids who play tennis get better grades, are more likely to go to college, are better behaved, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviours like binge drinking and smoking. Again, all of this good news is essentially gravy, because tennis is enjoyable enough on its own to justify the time spent playing it. But hey, it’s good to have this information at the ready. The next time someone asks what you’re doing with a racquet, just say you’re working on your mental acuity. So get out there and have some fun. If you need some shoes, we got you.
For Tennis Players (of all levels) we recommend:
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