Tennis is a fantastic sport for getting in shape and improving your overall health and wellbeing. Whether you want to lose weight, gain strength, improve heart health, or reap the many other physical and mental benefits of tennis, picking up a racket and getting on the court is one of the best things you can do for your fitness.
When played regularly, tennis can transform your physical fitness and make you feel healthier, energized and more alive. The great thing about tennis is that it exercises your cardiovascular system as well as tones and strengthens almost every major muscle group in the body. You get a total body workout that burns calories, builds lean muscle, enhances flexibility, and boosts endurance.
Beyond the physical perks, tennis also provides mental stimulation that can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost brain power. The cross-training effect you get from tennis makes it one of the most effective activities for becoming fitter and healthier. If you’re looking for a fun way to get in shape and improve your health, tennis has all you need. Here’s a closer look at how you can get fit and healthy playing tennis?
How You Can Get Fit and Healthy Playing Tennis?
Playing tennis twice a week will help get you in shape and strengthen muscles. Adding in more practices and matches provides even greater fitness and health benefits. Be sure to incorporate proper strength training, stretching, nutrition, and rest days for the best overall physical conditioning.
|Tennis improves heart and lung efficiency by keeping heart rate elevated.
|Hitting strokes works all major muscle groups to build strength and endurance.
|Tennis burns 400-600+ calories per hour, boosting metabolism and reducing body fat.
|The concentration and strategy required lessen stress and anxiety.
|Tracking and hitting the ball enhances coordination and reaction time.
|Lunging and twisting increase mobility and range of motion.
The Many Physical Benefits of Playing Tennis
Tennis is a form of interval training, where you alternate short bursts of intense activity with periods of lower intensity recovery. This stop-and-go type of workout provides a host of physical benefits that will make you fitter, stronger, and feeling great. Here are some of the major ways tennis enhances your physical fitness:
Improved Cardiovascular Health
One of the biggest benefits of tennis is how much it boosts your cardiovascular fitness. The constant movement and rapid changes in intensity significantly improve the efficiency of your heart and lungs. Running down balls, lunging for shots, and sprinting to cover the court challenges your cardiovascular system to become stronger.
Your heart rate remains elevated throughout a match, averaging around 70% to 80% of your max heart rate. This strengthens your heart muscle, improves blood circulation, and increases the size and efficiency of your lungs. Regular tennis playing can result in a resting heart rate that is much lower, sometimes by 15 to 20 beats per minute. This indicates better cardiovascular conditioning and reduced stress on the heart.
Increased Muscular Strength and Endurance
The act of hitting tennis strokes repetitively works and strengthens all the major muscle groups in your body. Your legs, glutes, core, shoulders, arms, and back get a great muscle workout when playing. Tennis involves lots of starting, stopping, lunging, squatting, rotating, and jumping – all movements that tone and shape your muscles beautifully.
The unilateral and rotational nature of tennis hits the muscles evenly on both sides of your body to give you excellent muscular balance and symmetry. After just a couple weeks of regular tennis playing, you’ll notice your body feeling tighter and leaner as those tennis strokes sculpt your physique. Tennis will boost both your muscular strength – allowing you to hit the ball harder and faster, as well as your muscular endurance – enabling you to last longer on the court before fatigue sets in.
Enhanced Power and Coordination
The fast pace of tennis requires quick footwork, fast reaction times, and explosive movements to run down balls. This increases your agility, balance, speed, and power. Tennis involves constantly changing directions, shuffling side to side, lunging, twisting, and moving in all planes of motion. This challenges your neuromuscular systems and reflexes to become more coordinated.
Your proprioception and control of your body improves significantly with tennis play. Hitting strokes on the run while maintaining balance and control also enhances your hand-eye coordination. Overall, the athletic movements required in tennis will make you feel more graceful, coordinated, and powerful in your body.
Greater Flexibility and Mobility
Tennis involves dynamic stretching through a large range of motions which maintains and improves flexibility. The rotation and torque required in your torso, hips, shoulders, and limbs as you windup for shots and run down balls keeps your joints and connective tissue supple. This allows a fuller range of effortless movement and helps reduce injuries.
The constant starts, stops, lunges and side to side motion opens up your hip flexors and groin while hitting serves and groundstrokes works your shoulders through a greater range. Tennis requires flexibility in your ankles, wrists, and elbows as well. Regular play will make you feel looser and more mobile. Be sure to stretch after playing to maximize the flexibility benefits.
Weight Loss and Reduced Body Fat
A great side effect of the increased cardiovascular output and muscle tone from tennis is weight loss and reduced body fat. A competitive tennis match can burn anywhere from 400 to over 700 calories per hour depending on your size and intensity level. The more you play, the more calories you’ll burn.
All that extra muscle you build also fires up your metabolism so you burn more calories around the clock. This makes it easier to get rid of excess fat and maintain a healthy weight. Along with the calorie burn, the interval training effect of tennis optimizes your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel. Less fat and more lean muscle is a sure way to look and feel fitter.
Related Article: What Makes Playing Tennis Fun?
The Mental and Emotional Benefits of Tennis
While the physical benefits of tennis are more well known, the mental stimulation and emotional perks provided are just as significant for your overall health and wellbeing. Here’s a look at some of the major mental upsides of making tennis a regular part of your routine:
Stress Relief and Improved Mood
One of the biggest mental benefits of tennis is how it reduces stress and anxiety while boosting your overall mood. Hitting balls back and forth requires laser-like focus and concentration on the present moment. This immersive “flow” state acts as a meditation of sorts that clears your mind of worries and quiets mental chatter.
The social nature of tennis combined with the rush of positive neurochemicals like serotonin and endorphins leaves you feeling uplifted and euphoric after play. Studies show regular tennis participation decreases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The mood-enhancing effects can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Overall, tennis is wonderful for giving your mind a break and your mood a healthy boost.
Enhanced Brain Function and Mental Acuity
The hand-eye coordination, alertness, quick thinking, and strategizing required in tennis enhances your mental abilities and sharpens your intellect. The cognitive skill required to track the ball, position yourself correctly, and choose the right shots exercises your brain and challenges it to become more nimble.
Studies show regular tennis play improves your processing speed, reaction time, memory, learning capability, and attention span. The constant split-second decision making forces your brain to think ahead and improves your judgment. Tennis provides new neural connections and networks in the brain that keep you mentally sharp and engaged. Your focus, visualization, and pattern recognition improve with consistent play.
Develops Discipline and Mental Toughness
To improve at tennis takes diligent practice, perseverance, and mental belief. You must discipline yourself to train hard, repetition after repetition, to ingrain those stroke techniques. Tennis teaches you to concentrate for long periods, battle through fatigue, and overcome frustration.
Pushing through difficult points and never giving up in a match builds grit and tenacity. Remaining poised under pressure teaches composure. Fighting back after losing a few games builds resilience. Developing your skills as a tennis player necessitates diligence, dedication, and determination. The mental fortitude required transports nicely off the court too.
Provides a Mental Escape and Catharsis
Many players describe the mental escape and catharsis that tennis provides. For a couple hours you can forget your worries and get out of your head by complete immersion in the match. The singularity of focus required allows a break from overthinking and constant mind chatter.
Tennis can be an emotional and psychological release as you get to let loose on the ball with aggressive shots. Pent up stress gets channeled constructively into your fierce backhand or blistering forehand. The mental refresh you feel after a session on the court is therapeutic for your spirit and psyche.
Tips for Maximizing Your Tennis Fitness
To fully transform your health and physical fitness through tennis, here are some key strategies:
Use Proper Technique and Get Coaching
While tennis looks easy from the sidelines, using proper technique, footwork, grips, and mechanics takes diligence and practice. Get some coaching early on so you don’t ingrain bad habits. Learn the proper ready position, grips, swing paths, footwork, and stroke production.
This will allow you to improve faster and avoid injuries caused by poor form. Investing in some lessons early on will pay huge dividends down the road in your fitness and enjoyment of the sport.
Cross-Train With Other Exercise
While tennis provides a superb overall workout, adding cross-training like weightlifting, yoga, swimming, cycling, or running can complement your program perfectly. Off-court strength training using free weights or resistance bands can build the muscle power needed for your shots.
Yoga enhances mobility, balance, and mental focus for tennis. Cardio like running, cycling, or swimming improves your aerobic capacity. Mixing up your training pushes fitness to the next level.
Stretch After Play and Enhance Flexibility
Be sure to stretch and cool down properly after tennis sessions to enhance flexibility gains. Use dynamic stretches and foam rolling to work the major muscle groups like your calves, quads, hamstrings, shoulders, and hips.
This allows muscles to fully recover and reduces injury risk. Stretch gently when muscles are warm for best effects. Yoga sessions on off-days also boost flexibility.
Stay Hydrated and Use Proper Nutrition
Drink plenty of water and electrolyte sports drinks during matches to stay hydrated. Bring a bottle and drink fluids at each changeover. Proper nutrition provides the fuel and recovery your body needs.
Concentrate on whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy carbohydrates. A balanced diet will allow you to get the most from your tennis fitness. Time meals and snacks properly around sessions to fuel your body.
Listen to Your Body and Allow Rest
While it’s tempting to play and train every day, rest days are vital to avoid burnout and overuse injuries. Take at least 1-2 rest days per week to allow your muscles to fully recover and adaptive changes to occur. Avoid playing when fatigued or in pain.
Your body needs down time to assimilate the stress of training. Restorative activities like yoga, walking, and stretching on off days speeds recovery.
How many calories do you burn playing tennis for 2 hours?
Playing tennis for 2 hours can burn a significant number of calories, with the exact amount depending on your body weight and intensity level. For a 150 pound person, playing singles tennis vigorously for 2 hours would burn approximately 544 calories.
The average calorie burn for a 185 pound person would be around 670 calories in 2 hours. These estimates are for active tennis playing time, not including breaks. The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn in an hour. Singles tennis generally burns more calories than doubles as you cover more ground.
You can maximize calorie burn by keeping rallies going, limiting down time, and staying active in between points. Keeping your heart rate elevated with aggressive play and running for shots will mean greater calorie expenditure.
Staying hydrated and fueling properly during your 2 hour tennis session enables you to maintain a high intensity level as well. So a competitive 2 hour tennis workout can torch 500-700+ calories, promoting weight loss and fitness.
How much weight can I lose playing tennis?
The amount of weight you can lose playing tennis depends on several factors like your initial weight, diet, genetics, and the frequency, length and intensity of play. For most people playing tennis vigorously 3-5 days per week for 30-90 minutes consistently for several months, losing 1-3 pounds per month is a reasonable estimate.
A 150 pound person could expect to lose 5-15 pounds after 6 months of regular tennis. Heavier folks tend to shed pounds faster, while losing the last 10-15 lbs takes more effort. Combining tennis training with a healthy reduced-calorie diet and other exercise can increase weight loss to 2-5 lbs monthly.
Getting coaching to maximize tennis intensity and improve your game aids weight loss. Interval training burns fat optimally. While results vary by the individual, tennis is excellent for long-term weight management. Just 2-3 sessions weekly promotes fat loss. But diet and lifestyle changes maximize tennis weight loss benefits. Tennis provides fun, social cardio exercise that leads to leaner and fitter physique over time.
Is tennis good exercise for losing weight?
Yes, tennis is an excellent exercise for losing weight and burning fat. The stop-and-go nature of tennis makes it a high intensity interval cardio workout that keeps your heart rate elevated. All the running around the court, lunging for shots, quick sprints and changes of direction burn significant calories and boost your metabolism.
A single 60-90 minute tennis session can torch 400-600+ calories depending on your size and intensity. This creates a calorie deficit that promotes fat loss over time. The more vigorously you play tennis, the more calories you’ll expend.
Beyond calories burned during play, building lean muscle mass from the all-body toning tennis provides allows you to burn extra calories around the clock. Frequent tennis workouts assist weight loss by optimizing your body’s ability to use fat for fuel.
The muscle built playing tennis revs up your resting metabolism. Tennis is also a low-impact activity, easier on joints than high impact exercises like running. The social, fun aspect of tennis makes it easier to stick to than repetitive gym workouts.
Overall, tennis is a highly effective exercise for losing unwanted pounds and body fat in an enjoyable way over time. Combining tennis with healthy eating habits maximizes weight loss.
Transform Your Body and Mind with Tennis
We’ve just scratched the surface on the many ways tennis can transform your physical and mental fitness. It really provides the total package of aerobic, muscle-building, calorie-burning exercise combined with mental stimulation, stress relief, and mood enhancement.
Pick up a racket, get on the court, and see your energy levels, focus, physique, and overall health transform in no time. Play regularly and tennis will quickly become your favorite form of exercise. The social nature makes fitness fun. Get ready to get fitter, stronger, leaner, and healthier with tennis!
James Locus is a staff writer at Tennis Make More, a tennis education platform. He’s also the founder and editor of TennisMakeMove.com, a website dedicated to tennis instruction and tennis equipment reviews. He’s also an experienced tennis coach and a certified tennis instructor.