The health benefits of playing tennis

Tennis provides a great combination of physical and mental activity.

If you are looking to serve up some exercise this spring, head down to the nearest courts and reap the health rewards of a proper tennis match. Tennis is a game that stimulates all your joints, muscles and heart, while also keeping your mind active. It is also a way to go at your own pace and doesn't require a competitive nature to conquer a good workout. If you are looking for a new and exciting source of recreation this spring, here are some reasons why you should consider picking up a racket and rallying up a sweat:

A social workout
Unlike other sports and exercises, tennis is the perfect opportunity to get together with friends, catch up and chat, all while keeping a good heart rate going. Tennis is played with either singles or doubles, so two to four people can occupy the court at one time. In just one hour of playing tennis, you can burn up to 600 calories, which is more than burned during swimming, golf or other aerobic exercises according to Harvard Medical School. Tennis is also an efficient way to lower cholesterol, reduce stress and easily meet the recommended 30 minutes of daily moderate intensity physical activity, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Plus, it is always a bonus to have a friend around to motivate you to play hard and stay active.

Mentally stimulating
Strategy is not a factor commonly associated with most forms of recreational activity, but for tennis, having a game plan is a natural instinct, whether you are aware of it or not. Everything from your serve to your positioning on the court impacts the game of tennis in some way, making it seem like a physically challenging chess match. When you see your opponent shifting to one side, you decide – consciously or not – to hit the ball to the other side of the court to make it more difficult for your adversary to volley it back. The hand-eye coordination that goes into a match of tennis is either greater or on par to just about any other exercise.

Live long and prosper
As long as you have a court, net, balls and a racket, there is nothing stopping you from a game of tennis, including age. Physician and renowned authority on exercise Ralph Paffenbarger studied more than 10,000 people over a duration of 20 years, finding that those who played tennis a minimum of three hours per week increased their likelihood to live longer and healthier by 50 percent. People who play tennis well into their elderly years are also proven to have lower body fat percentages, better lipid profiles and improved aerobic fitness capabilities than those who don't.

Whether you have played your whole life or have never picked up a racket before, tennis is a game that clearly has a tremendous amount of health benefits. So tie up the laces and rush the net this spring to see what tennis can offer your body.

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