5 Health Benefits of Playing Tennis

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Although tennis gives you a full workout, it really builds bone mass in your racquet arm.
Although tennis gives you a full workout, it really builds bone mass in your racquet arm.
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Running, swinging, reaching, pivoting -- tennis can be a real workout with the right opponent. It's a whole-body sport, and you can burn a lot of calories because you're constantly on the move. In fact, for many people, playing tennis can actually burn more calories than other popular types of physical activity, including leisurely cycling, weight lifting, golfing, dancing or playing volleyball [source: Mayo Clinic Staff]. As a result, playing tennis regularly has been shown to help reduce body fat [source: Buschbacher].

To lose a pound of fat, you need to burn approximately an extra 3,500 calories. If playing singles tennis for one hour burns about 600 calories for a man and 420 calories for a woman, playing about three to four hours of tennis each week could help you lose around half a pound a week. That's not bad for a recreational sport that's both fun and can be played by just about anyone.

Want to learn more about fun, engaging ways to get active? The links below are a good start.

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More Great Links


  • Banich, Marie T., and Rebecca J. Compton. "Cognitive Neuroscience." Cengage Learning, 2010.
  • Brandt, Michelle L. "Ralph Paffenbarger, renowned exercise authority, dies at 84." Stanford Report. July 25, 2007. (May 15, 2011) http://news.stanford.edu/news/2007/july25/med-paffobit-072507.html
  • Buschbacher, Ralph M. et al. "Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation: A Sport-Specific Approach." Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008.
  • Clover, Jim. "Sports Medicine Essentials: Core Concepts in Athletic Training & Fitness Instruction." Cengage Learning, 2007.
  • "Heart & Vascular Health & Prevention: Tennis: Stronger Mind & Body." Cleveland Clinic. (May 15, 2011) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/exercise/tennis.aspx
  • "How To Prevent and Control Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors." National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (May 21, 2011) http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/hd/hd_prevention.html
  • Huddleston, Alan L., Ph.D. et al. "Bone Mass in Lifetime Tennis Athletes." Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 244, No. 10, September 5, 1980. http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/244/10/1107.full.pdf
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms." Mayo Clinic. October 23, 2009. (May 19, 2011)
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour." Mayo Clinic, December 1, 2009. (June 7, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043
  • NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. "Exercise for Bone Health." National Institutes of Health. January 2009. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Exercise/default.asp
  • Ratey, John, M.D. "A User's Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain." Random House Digital, 2002.
  • "Tennis - health benefits." Better Health Channel, State Government of Victoria. January 2011. (May 20, 2011) http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Tennis?open
  • University of California, Berkeley. "The New Wellness Encyclopedia." Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1995.
  • Woods, Kathy, and Ron Woods. "Playing Tennis After 50." Human Kinetics, 2008.


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