You’ve probably heard that tennis is a lifelong sport. But is it true? An extensive amount of research has been poured into the idea, and it turns out, tennis is one of the best sports to play throughout your life.
It’s no secret that leading an active lifestyle can help you live longer. Research has shown that regular, moderate physical activity has beneficial health effects and is associated with a decreased risk of various diseases. Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger Jr., a Stanford University researcher, studied over 10,000 people in a period of 20 years, and concluded that people who participate in tennis at least three hours per week at moderately vigorous intensity cut their risk of death in half, regardless of cause.
A study from Denmark by Peter Schnohr and colleagues, suggests that playing tennis could even extend your life expectancy by nearly 10 years. Perhaps the most interesting of the findings—the study shows that leisure-time sports like tennis, which usually involve more social interaction, have a direct correlation to life expectancy. Although this fascinating discovery requires more research, it’s suspected that the social aspect of tennis—being with other people while playing a sport—could amplify the benefits of the exercise.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity—a combination of both spread throughout the week being ideal. As for kids ages six to 17, they should be getting at least 60 minutes per day of mostly aerobic moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. The Association suggests tennis (doubles) for a moderate-intensity aerobic activity and tennis (singles) for a vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
There’s no doubt that moving more and sitting less throughout the week by playing tennis supports physical health, but there are also significant mental advantages. The American Heart Association suggests that being more active promotes better sleep, including improvements in insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea; improved cognition, including memory, attention and processing speed; fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety; and, better quality of life and sense of overall well-being.
According to Dr. Joan Finn, professor of exercise science and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Southern Connecticut State University, tennis players scored higher in vigor, optimism, and self-esteem, while scoring lower in depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and tension, as compared with other athletes and non-athletes. In addition, a study by Ahmet Bulent Yazici and colleagues, concludes that the effects of tennis are beneficial in reducing depression, anxiety and general mental health symptoms.
Whether you’re looking to find a sport that can serve you for the rest of your life, or are thinking of getting your child involved in a sport that can do the same, the USTA Pacific Northwest is here to help you get started. Get your kids signed up for RecTennis. It’s time to experience the sport that can improve your physical, mental and emotional health. No matter your age or experience level, we have a program for you.
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