10 Reasons to Take Up Tennis

From the Wimbledon championships dating back to the 1800s to the upcoming Olympic Summer Games in Rio, tennis has long been revered for the athleticism, endurance and agility of the players. But you don’t have to be one of the Williams sisters to reap the health and fitness benefits of this long-popular sport.

You also don’t have to belong to a fancy gym or sports club; community centers all over the country have tennis courts and low-cost lessons to help you get started.

Still not sure? Consider these 10 reasons to learn to play tennis.

1. Tennis Enhances Aerobic and Anaerobic Fitness

Like running and cycling, tennis is an aerobic sport that burns fat and improves cardiovascular fitness. But by offering short, intense bursts of activity followed by periods of rest, tennis also enhances anaerobic fitness, helping muscles use oxygen more efficiently.

2. Tennis Burns Calories

When you’re playing hard, tennis burns more calories than aerobics, inline skating, or cycling, according to research comparing the calorie burn rates of different sports.

3. Tennis Boosts Brain Health

Tennis is good for the brain as well as the body, requiring alertness and tactical thinking and training the parts of the brain dealing with angles, geometry and physics. In fact, research shows that strategy sports like tennis generate new connections between nerves in the brain, promoting brain health and helping prevent decline.

4. Tennis Aids Both Fine and Gross Motor Control

Tennis not only requires control of large muscle groups for running and hitting, it also builds fine motor skills through racket handling and touch shots like angled volleys, drop shots and lobs.

5. Tennis Builds Strong Bones

Tennis is an impact sport, with plenty of leaping, jumping, and running, all of which help maintain bone density. In younger players, a high-impact sport like tennis builds strong bones while in older players it can help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.

6. Tennis Increases Agility

Watch a few volleys and it’s immediately clear that tennis requires agility and speed for all the ducking, lunging, leaping, and reaching required to return a shot.

7. Tennis Improves Balance and Coordination

Because tennis requires you to start, stop, pivot, and change direction frequently – and to hit while doing all of the above –  it provides good balance training at any age. And it’s great for eye-hand coordination, too!

8. Tennis Increases Flexibility

Like yoga, tennis increases flexibility by requiring you to reach beyond the confines of normal movement and to stretch your body into unusual postures and positions.

9. Tennis Boosts Reflexes and Reactions

As you anticipate, watch, and accelerate in reaction to your opponent’s moves, tennis trains your reflexes and speeds reaction times.

Tennis Is Fun

Drop by your neighborhood court and it’s instantly clear that tennis a great way to make new friends and build a sense of community. And depending on your level, there are many ways to get involved, from taking a beginner’s class at your local rec center to joining a more serious league. And don’t forget doubles; tennis is one sport you and your bestie or partner can play together.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.