Tennis and Longevity!

Want to have fun and live longer? Take up tennis says Judy Chapman

It’s a well-established fact that regular movement promotes health and longevity, but did you know that playing tennis can add nearly ten years to your life?

The health benefits of tennis are widely known. Research such as that from the US-based Mayo Clinic found that playing regular tennis lowers body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as improves cardiovascular, metabolic, bone and heart health, and aerobic fitness. 

Even better, a recent Denmark study revealed that tennis was a clear winner when it came to life expectancy. The study conducted over 25 years, compared several sports and concluded that tennis added 9.7 years to life expectancy; Badminton 6.2 years, Soccer 4.7 years; Cycling 3.7 years, Swimming 3.4 years; Jogging 3.2 years, Calisthenics 3.1 years and gym activities 1.5 years.

Feeling inspired to pick up your racquet?  But wait, there’s more….

Another study (British) found that regular tennis players (and other racket sports) apparently live longer – and this is not only compared to sedentary folk, but also to those who exercise solo such as jogging and biking. According to physician Ralph Paffenbarger of Harvard University School of Public Health, people who participate in tennis three hours a week can cut their risk of death in half from any cause.

Authors of these and other studies have concluded that some of the key reasons that tennis promotes longevity is due to the short bursts of high-intensity activity combined with interval training. Tennis is a game that also requires one to be alert and is thought to generate neuro pathways (connections between nerves) and is therefore amazing for brain development. Another high-point is the social aspect. Tennis is such a great activity to meet people, connect with the local community, and has an etiquette that is very appealing.

Yes, tennis is all about LOVE!

In my experience, playing tennis offers a full body workout that keeps one agile, mobile and light on one’s feet. You not only work out your upper body, but it’s beneficial for core and lower body movement and strength. 

Tennis is often referred to as ‘zennis’ and with good reason. Forget therapy, it’s one of those activities where you need to be fully present and ‘in the zone’. Simply put, you can’t really get away with daydreaming when on the court. Tennis is also a happy ‘serotonin’ booster and scores highly when it comes to elevating confidence, self-esteem and optimism. In fact, studies have shown that tennis players scored low in depression, anger and anxiety compared to other athletes. 

An outdoor sport such as tennis has countless benefits – especially during a pandemic. Last year during Covid-19, outdoor fitness surged. Tennis Australia collected data from venues around the country that demonstrated bookings for courts at least doubled during the pandemic with NSW recording a staggering 230% increase in tennis. Tennis is one of the few sports where social distancing is easily maintained.

The good news is that there’s a tennis club in every community. It’s an ageless sport and at any given tennis club you’ll find players on the court who are well into their eighties and nineties (and are damned good players too!). Unlike other competitive sports like football or rugby, tennis is something you can take up at any age.

Game, set, match!

2 Comments

  1. I was never very good at tennis during my school years in Wales, so chose to concentrate on athletics instead. Almost 60 years later, now living in southern Spain, I’ve taken up pádel tennis (same basic rules on a slightly smaller court, but a short handled, stubby bat instead of a racquet). I am finding it invigorating, energising and thoroughly exhausting, but I’m getting better each time I play and getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.

  2. Totally agree with these facts as I am a tennis player myself playing socially 3 times a week and love it. Perth, Australia

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