The sport on red clay helps condition the heart and cardiovascular system
Tennis is among the most popular sports worldwide: it can be practiced by two players pitted against each other (singles), or four players in teams of two (doubles). Players use a racket to hit a ball into the other side of the court in an attempt to make the opponent fail to hit the ball back after no more than one bounce. This sport can bring many benefits to the body as a whole, partly thanks to the fact that it involves a mix of aerobic and anaerobic activity. This means that tennis requires moments of full effort alternated with moments of relative rest. This characteristic allows for beneficial effects on both the muscles and heart, on the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system and the muscle tone of the entire body.
Tennis: a complete sport
Playing tennis is not just running around after a ball! It has specific rules that make it a complex, multidimensional discipline.
- Physical: given that the player is only allowed to let the ball bounce once, he or she must move very fast to cover the entire court, which is a lot of ground to cover (particularly in singles).
- Technique: it is vital that the player gain dexterity with the racket, in order to master a variety of shots (including the serve, forehand, backhand, volley and many more), which can also be given a particular “effect”, such as backspin or topspin. The player must also predict the ball’s trajectory and anticipate it by getting into position to hit the ball, all of which is affected by the specific surface of the court.
- Strategy: in order to defeat an opponent in a game of tennis, one must choose the best shots and the correct destination for those shots, use his/her strengths and the opponent’s weaknesses to dictate the play and score points.
Benefits of tennis
Tennis is a complete sport because it has benefits on many different aspects:
- It causes great energy expenditure because it requires strength, speed and endurance at all times. Tennis burns between 400 and 600 kcal per hour and helps train the cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well as the muscles.
- It increases muscle tone in the entire body: the player uses, and strengthens, legs, arms and torso.
- It develops coordination because it requires the player to synchronize movements in the upper and lower body.
- It favors concentration because it is a tactical sport that requires strategy and precision. The player must also anticipate the direction of the ball in order to get into position in time to hit the ball correctly.
- It teaches self-control as this virtue is required in order to be precise and avoid mistakes.
- It helps relieve stress. The enjoyable nature of the game makes it great for the body and mind.
What kind of cardiovascular effort does a tennis match require?
In this aspect, there is a significant defference between singles and doubles, and between the act of passing the ball to one another as opposed to a competitive match, even at a low skill level. In a singles tennis match, the players’ conditioning is highly tested, with a mixed metabolic response: mostly aerobic and with frequent anaerobic peaks throughout the game. The cardiovascular system is strongly involved and the heart develops adaptation mechanisms to respond to increased energy demands. One way is to increase cardiac output, or the amount of blood pumped per unit of time, in order to bring extra “fuel” to the muscles when they need it the most. Heart rate therefore tends to experience intense variations throughout a tennis match, which puts stress on the circulatory system and the heart in particular.
We would like to remind you that carrying out regular physical activity lowers blood pressure levels and that if you wish to play tennis safely you should make sure to have an undamaged cardiovascular system with healthy coronary arteries.
Scientific articles below:
- Playing vs. Nonplaying Aerobic Training in Tennis: Physiological and Performance Outcomes (PLoS One. 2015; 10(3): e0122718.)
- Cardiorespiratory Responses to Table Tennis in Low-Fit Coronary Patients and Implications for Exercise Training (Am J Cardiol. 2014 Dec 15;114(12):1846-9) ABSTRACT
- Metabolic and cardiorespiratory reactions in tennis-players in laboratory testing and under sport-specific conditions. (Wien Med Wochenschr. 1995;145(22):611-5) ABSTRACT
- Tennis Play Intensity Distribution and Relation with Aerobic Fitness in Competitive Players (PLoS One. 2015; 10(6): e0131304.)