Tennis classifies as a form of high-intensity exercise. The oxygen consumption of singles players measures between 50 and 80 per cent of VO2 max (this is the maximum capacity of an individual to use oxygen during exercise) while heart-rates have been measured at between 70 and 80 per cent of maximum heart rate (and sometimes greater than 90 per cent during intense rallies), a level that improves aerobic capacity and athletic performance, and is equivalent to jogging and cycling.

While this exercise science jargon may mean little, the findings are powerful. Being a vigorous form of exercise, tennis is therefore associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, while assisting weight loss and increasing metabolism and muscle mass.

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Burn calories and improve your health

Activities that promote weight loss appeal to almost everyone, especially in this era where obesity is a major global health risk and where sedentary lifestyles rule. And tennis fits the bill – playing singles for one hour can burn around 600 calories in men and 420 calories in women, equivalent to popular gym pursuits like lifting weights or spin classes.

Studies have also revealed some of tennis’s less-celebrated benefits. Did you know that:

  • 18 to 34-year-olds who participate in individual sports like tennis are less likely to be obese than team-sport players?
  • recreational tennis players aged between 23 and 69 who play twice a week carry almost four per cent less body fat than non-tennis players?
  •  tennis strengthens tendons and ligaments in the body?
  • compared with other sports, tennis is associated with a lower risk of injury?

You’re never too young or old to play tennis

Unlike many sports, tennis can be enjoyed at all ages. This is of especially good news to elderly people, who can enjoy the myriad health benefits of tennis at a time when they’re more susceptible to injury and illness. And being a sport that improves coordination and balance, it can reduce the risk of falls, also more likely to affect the elderly.