Many people play tennis for the pure enjoyment of the game, but this sport also offers many physical benefits. Both the anaerobic and aerobic systems are often utilized during a tennis match. Generally speaking, anaerobic exercise describes doing high intensity activities for a short period of time, while aerobic exercise is when you?re active at a lower intensity for a longer period of time-think of running sprints versus taking a long jog. Both of these forms of training offer advantages, and playing a game of tennis lets you get the benefits of each!
The Anaerobic Aspect
Most points usually last only a couple of seconds, during which the anaerobic system is used for short, explosive movements. During a rally your heart rate rises rapidly, and you only have a short recovery period between points.
The Aerobic Aspect
Because tennis matches can last 2 to 3 hours, your muscular endurance and the health of your aerobic system has a significant impact on your performance. It’s been shown that people who play tennis regularly have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension and coronary artery disease. The average resting heart rate for adults is between 60 to 100 beats a minute, and for the most part a lower heart rate suggests that a person’s heart is functioning more efficiently and that their overall cardiovascular fitness is better. Bjorn Borg, one of the all-time great tennis players, had a resting heart rate of 35 beats per minute at the peak of his career! This was the remarkable result of cardiovascular adaptation from years of tennis training.
Regular exercise can reduce the rate of bone mass loss, especially in relation to aging after menopause. Tennis is a weight bearing activity and has shown to decrease the loss of bone mass.
As with all exercise, playing tennis can have a psychological benefit by releasing endorphins and therefore decreasing your stress levels.
The game of tennis involves well timed, multi-joint movements in order to hit the ball, which has shown to improve hand-eye coordination and overall balance.
Overall, playing tennis on a regular basis has many physical benefits, and can be enjoyed at any age throughout your lifetime. See my additional posts for more information:
Pawel Wawrzyniak is a doctor of physical therapy and board certified sports clinical specialist at theIntegrative Care Center at Hospital for Special Surgery. He played Division I collegiate tennis for four years, and has taught tennis to all levels of players at the USTA National Tennis Center and West Side Tennis Club, where he was a hitting partner to WTA tour players.