Tennis Serves up Plenty of Lifestyle Benefits

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Southwest Florida residents enjoy tennis year-round thanks to constant sunshine and hot weather, but interest spikes this time of year because of Wimbledon, plenty of professional hard court tournaments throughout the summer, and the U.S. Open in August.

Beyond professional play, there are all those energetic club players, gated community tournaments, youth leagues, apartment complex hobbyists, casual hits at parks, and so much more. Indeed, tennis is everywhere and offers plenty of excitement and fun – and it’s also a thorough exercise for all ages.

Thinking of taking up tennis or getting back into the game? Need a refresher on just how effective tennis can be for your physical and mental health? Read on to learn all about tennis’ physical and mental benefits as well as try out some handy injury prevention tips.

Physical Perks: 15-0

Paul Zavala, an occupational therapist at Lee Health, says tennis contributes to fitness, strength, agility, flexibility, reflexes, and overall health. Tennis helps you learn better footwork and balance since mobility is a key to properly hitting the ball.

Tennis utilizes upper, core, and lower body muscles – but it’s also one of the best cardiovascular and aerobic exercises you can do. Playing a few sets increases oxygen flow, circulation, and helps you fight back heart disease. That kind of physical workout also decreases lipids, which helps lower cholesterol.

Mental Might: 30-0

One thing to remember is that sports — and physical activity in general — improve your mental health as well. Tennis contributes to quality of life by providing a platform for social interaction, friendship, and family bonding, Zavala says.

Exercise also improves your mood and self-image – especially when weight loss is involved.

Want to sleep better? Tennis improves serotonin levels, which is critical to better rest. Then there is that natural mood boost and a heightened self-image – especially when weight loss is involved.

“Tennis is a life skill that can be enjoyed at any age,” Zavala says.

How to Prevent Injuries: 40-0

OK, so we’ve convinced you that tennis is a great thing. Now it’s up to you to take the proper steps and prevent injuries:

  • Zavala recommends proper warm-up – at least 15 minutes before you play. Warm-up should include global stretches, light cardio, and practicing your strokes.
  • Work in proper rest and try not to play two days in a row. Zavala tells clients that playing tennis two days in a row is comparable to working out in a gym. It’s not recommended to work out the same muscles successive days in a row, and it is the same with tennis.
  • Be sure to perform a whole-body stretching regime every morning to help prevent muscle strain and tears.
  • Zavala says these exercises can help with stiffness and weakness: Light resistance circuit training one or two times a week (legs, core, shoulders, forearms), and cardio (bike, walk, jog) one to two times a week.

Game, Set, Match!

You’re well on the way to enjoying a lifetime of fun and exercise. Remember to eat right to provide your body with enough fuel to play and be sure to stay hydrated, especially in the hot Florida summer.

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