photo by steven pisano
Tennis is one of the best sports there is for developing all-round fitness, but the really great thing about tennis is that you achieve balanced fitness between stamina, suppleness and strength without even realising it because you’re having fun.
This is the key to any exercise programme – enjoyment. If you try to do something that seems like a bit of a slog, you probably won’t keep it up (though it has to be said that the masochistic slog exercises do suit some people). And tennis is a great sport once you get to a reasonable level.
These days, you can almost always find somewhere to be able to play tennis indoors in the UK – so we don’t need to regard tennis as exclusively a summer thing anymore.
There is one big proviso here, though; you have to get reasonably good at tennis and play someone of similar ability to get a really good workout from the sport.
Obviously, this may involve a little tennis coaching to get going. But one of the best ways to get into the sport is undoubtedly by watching the big tournaments – these really make you feel like getting out there. The next Grand Slam event is just around the corner. On the ladies’ side of the draw, the old warhorse Serena Williams is currently a hot favourite for the Australian Open Tennis with Betfair and other major bookmakers, at around 2-1.
The men’s side looks fascinating with the traditional big four of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Britain’s Andy Murray one, two, three and four in the betting followed by last year’s surprise Aussie Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka.
It will be a fascinating tournament and if you can watch a lot of it – it will truly help fire your enthusiasm for this thoroughly enjoyable sport that really is a great all-round workout when you play hard.
Specifically, tennis helps improve both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, along with speed, strength, flexibility, balance, co-ordination and muscle tone, whatever your age. Just take it easy at first, always warm-up and warm-down thoroughly and never try to do too much. Remember – this is all about enjoyment to which the health and fitness benefits will be entirely incidental.
On average, every time you play a match of tennis, you can expect to run for anywhere between three and five miles – during which you should be burning up around 600 calories per hour.
As you get better at tennis, and your tennis fitness improves – you’ll get fitter still and burn up more calories, particularly if you and your partner(s) can play at a fairly quick pace.
There are also lots of exercises you can do in the gym off court to help improve your on-court tennis performance. These should be all about building core strength, stamina and flexibility – along with working specific muscles that help in tennis (though your whole body really does get a great work-out at tennis when you play hard). Search online for off-court tennis exercise programmes, etc., to get a better idea and work out a regimen. You’ll soon find you want to do this to improve your game as you really get into the sport.
In this way, you get into a healthy spiral upwards with the sport on all fronts. You’ll soon find that, as you get better and fitter, the exercise is in no way a chore. In fact, quite the opposite is true and you can’t wait to get on a tennis court again. This is, of course, exactly what we’re aiming for here.
So start slowly, book a few lessons to get the foundations right – and start having a good time. You’ll soon be leaner, fitter, stronger and more toned – and you’ll be having a lot of fun along the way.