On the ball

Tennis is proving a bigger hit than ever to get fit and have fun – especially among women. Here’s why picking up a racquet is good for you

With our beloved Any Murray temporarily out of the singles spotlight, it’s the successes of our ladies that are catching all the attention with the girls storming success in the Fed Cup and British number one Jo Konta enjoying a special run to the semi-final at the French Open. So are you inspired to have a go at tennis yourself?

Tennis is a great sport to improve all-round health regardless of your ability – experts say it is twice as good for your well-being as cycling, aerobics or swimming. Playing tennis increases aerobic capacities, lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure, boosts metabolic function, increases bone density, lowers body fat, improves muscle tone, strength and flexibility and increases reaction times.

BODY WORKOUT

A session on court is a brilliant workout for the entire body. You use your lower body for all that running, stopping and starting, jumping and crouching. And the action of hitting the tennis ball, whether it’s single or double-handed, means that your trunk does a lot of work as well, in particular your shoulders and upper back.

Singles tennis can burn between 400-600 calories an hour. That’s not bad for a recreational sport that’s both fun and can be played by just about anyone. Playing tennis also has a positive impact on your bones. Exercising regularly can increase your peak bone mass and can slow the rate of bone mass loss over time.

According to research, bone mass peaks around age 30 and begins to decline after that. You can maximize your bone mass prior to that age through exercise, and continuing to exercise after 30 can slow the rate of bone loss. Tennis is well suited to building strong bones.

POWER PLAY

Tennis requires the cooperation of the whole body as you move your feet, arms and hands to get into the right position and position the racquet to make contact with the ball. You’re then using the torso and legs to provide the power to hit the ball over the net. All these factors come together every time you hit the ball, and each shot takes flexibility, coordination and balance. Flexibility is great because it can give you a wider range of motion, help prevent injuries and even reduce muscle strain.

And of course, like all exercise, tennis will help boost our mood helping you feel more optimistic, have greater self-esteem and even become less anxious. A word of warning though! If you’re a tennis beginner, haven’t played in a while, or are taking up exercise after a long time of being inactive, be sensible. Follow our top tips and you’ll have healthy, invigorating – and safe – fun!

SMASHING TIPS 

• Make sure you have plenty of fluids on hand and rehydrate regularly.

• Don’t overdo it. Mix up your physical activity with other low-impact sports.

• Play at a level according to your age and physical condition.

• Avoid playing with a pre-existing illness or injury. If in doubt, talk to a doctor.

• Warm up your muscles and joints before hitting the court.

•Be careful if the court conditions are wet and especially if the surface is slippery.