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“New balls please!” It’s the sound of the summer. But there’s more to tennis than the two weeks of excitement fuelled by strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. Taking a leaf out of the tennis pro’s lawn can help you to stay fit and agile all year round. It’s one of the best sports for stamina, body conditioning, flexibility, functional strength and honing your reactions with those high-speed serves.
So how come Tennis is such a great all-rounder for your health? The main benefits of the sport come from the stop-start nature of the game. Interval training, where you use short bursts of explosive exercise with lulls in between are fantastic for strengthening your heart, lungs and developing toned muscles.
Because Tennis is a competitive game, you also push yourself further and harder than you might in the gym. It has you flinging yourself all over the court after those tricky volleys, which is great for “functional strength”. This is the key to a toned, but lean body; whereas weight lifting and repetitive exercises such as using a cross-trainer will build the major muscles in set patterns, functional strength works muscle fibres in all directions and, because of the unpredictable movements, it works even the smallest muscles of the body giving you all-over tone and deep-down strength without the bulk.
They say that tennis is a game for life, one that you can play from childhood to old age, and that’s got a lot to do with the very specific health benefits of the game. For example, the high impact of sprinting, changing directions and hitting the ball is an excellent way of improving your bone density and warding off osteoporosis in later life. It’s also good for your coordination and mental agility, encouraging quick reactions and strategic thinking which can keep Alzheimer’s and senile dementia at bay. So those who do take up tennis for life tend to live longer and stay on the ball.
If you’re looking to take up a new sport, tired of the monotony of the gym or you just fancy some fun with your friends, tennis is a great choice of exercise. Since hiring an indoor or outdoor court can often be quite inexpensive, it’s a good all year round choice whether you’re a complete novice or a wannabe-Williams.