When you think about tennis, what jumps to your mind? The Australian Open, Roger Federer, Rod Laver or your local tennis club? You don’t have to be Wimbledon standard, or a Williams sister to enjoy a serve of this wonderful court game. Tennis is a sport designed for all ages, abilities and fitness levels. All you need to do is simply pick up a racquet, tie your shoes, call a friend or relative to join, go to your local tennis club, move around the court and gently lobby the ball over the net. Before you know it, you’ll be a tennis champion!
As Ros Balodis, world number one for Senior Tennis Federation Events, explains, ‘tennis can be played throughout your lifetime and adapted to your skills and fitness level. Everyone can participate and it brings everyone together.’
It is no secret that exercise and playing sports are great for your health. So, what does tennis have to offer you, other than a little friendly competition?
Some benefits for your mind include:
1. Positive feelings: Chemicals, such as endorphins are released when you exercise. These endorphins improve your mood, self-esteem and even ward off feelings of depression.
2. Sharpness and coordination: Tennis can improve concentration and noticeably boost your memory.
3. Happy chemicals: Serotonin is a hormone and neurochemical released by the brain, which effects your feelings of wellbeing. It also improves your mood by alleviating anxiety, stress and depression. It can even influence your sleep and appetite.
4. Social butterfly: Tennis improves your social interaction on and off court.
5. Mental sharpness: Tennis is a physical game, but strategy also plays an important role. Structured activities has shown that they can improve mental performance and help lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease as well as other forms of dementia.
Some physical benefits include:
1. Improves strength, flexibility and balance: Every time you hit the ball, your whole body is involved. Because the sport involves quick movement and directional changes, it helps to maintain your balance and coordination. It takes good strength to get the ball over the net!
2. Tennis is healthy for your heart: A tennis match can easily last one to two hours, therefore the movement gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping. This is good for your cardiovascular health, lowering the risk of a heart attack, stroke and heart disease.
3. Increase aerobic capabilities: Tennis heightens your oxygen intake, which gets your heart rate up. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and colon and breast cancer.
4. Curb osteoporosis: Regular weight bearing exercises like tennis, is great to help build bone mass and increase bone density ,which prevents osteoporosis and bone fractures. Impact exercise also increases lymph draining and improves general immunity.
5. Whole body work-out: As your legs do the running and your arms and shoulders are used to hit the ball, it is a good exercise to build both upper and lower body strength.
Modifying the game to suit individual needs
Tennis is such an adaptive sport and can be changed in many ways to accommodate players with differing abilities. Take for example visually impaired players, where a ball is modified with a noise making device to hear it. People can play in a wheelchair and the sport can also accommodate people with learning disabilities.
‘Tennis has been my hobby for over 50 years, I love that it gets me away from my desk, out in the open air and keeps me active. It’s great for the body and mind,’ says Ros.
It is important to be aware of some safety tips for playing tennis as you age. These factors include staying hydrated, paying attention to your heart rate and to take a break when you feel tired, out of breath, fatigued, or faint.
Be sure to drink plenty of water, drink and eat food enriched with electrolytes after playing, and pay attention to your temperature so that you don’t overheat.
As with all forms of exercise, it is important to be aware of your body’s capabilities and your particular needs. If you are unsure if the sport is right for you, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
So, what are you waiting for - spring on the court this season and serve up an ace!
Keen for a match of tennis? Our Home Care Experts can help with transport to the courts or even connect you with a doubles partner.
Contact one of our friendly Care Experts on 1300 66 00 22 to learn more.